Vol. 4 (2024)

Irish Public Libraries as safe social spaces for older adults

Published 2024-07-09


  • Public libraries,
  • Ireland,
  • Safe spaces,
  • Social spaces,
  • Kildare,
  • Older citizens,
  • Older people
  • ...More

How to Cite

Connolly, L. (2024). Irish Public Libraries as safe social spaces for older adults. Reflective Professional, 4. Retrieved from https://journals.rgu.ac.uk/REF-PRO/article/view/163


Public Libraries represent a welcoming, social environment for many of us, but for none moreso than our older adults who place significant value on their library visits and interactions. This case study examines the effectiveness of Kildare Library and Arts Service’s Age Friendly practices in creating safe, social spaces for older adults. The research objectives include critically examining library accessibility, appraising programming, exploring staff opinions on service and investigating digital inclusion for older patrons.

A literature review was carried out to place the topic in context (down to a local perspective) and to provide an initial overview for the case study. Following on from this review, the data collection methods included conversational group, librarian and mobile librarian interviews, gathering of observational data in-branch and statistical analysis. 

The findings indicate that both patrons and staff feel their libraries are safe, social spaces while over 90% of branches checked returned positive responses. Analysis of programming data indicates a need for more Age Friendly events to be scheduled, especially in part-time branches.

The research findings would be of interest to stakeholders as an ‘on-theground- investigation’ into the safe and social nature of Kildare Library environments. Although the lack of formal, structured KLAS policies was highlighted, this research is a good starting point for any library service, including KLAS, seeking to critically examine their older adult service provision.