In 2020 Local Studies launched a new website supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council, the site allows the public to remotely access the service and collection. In recent years the library service has focused on the digitisation of highly demanded and popular resources to improve access and ensure preservation of originals. The new website provides a platform for this digital archive, an ever-expanding resource comprised of digital copies of records and publications within the Laois Collection and digital copies of Laois material held elsewhere.
Local Studies is a section within the Library Service dedicated to acquiring, preserving and making available to the public, material relating to the history and heritage of County Laois. It is home to the Laois Collection, a specialist collection on the local, social, cultural, political, economic and natural history of the county. This rich collection, much of it unique, consists of books, journals, newspapers, maps, photographs, oral histories, music recordings, visual recordings and archives.
County Librarian Bernie Foran said:
“Local Studies has a symbiotic relationship with the community. By facilitating access to primary and secondary sources on all aspects of life in Laois, it fosters new research, which in turn results in new works that expand and enhance the Laois Collection. From the meticulously researched works by local historians such as Teddy Fennelly, Jackie Hyland, John Dunne and the late Johnny O’Brien, to name but a few; to music recordings by Music Generation Laois; and once off publications by hardworking community groups such as sports clubs, local history groups and schools; all combine to tell the ever evolving story of Laois and its people.”
In addition to contributing creative and factual works, the community expands the Laois Collection by donating Laois material, from book collections, documentaries and musical works to photographs and historical records. Laois County Library would like to acknowledge the generosity of the many individuals, families and organisations who have donated material over the years, including local historians, artists, photographers, schools, businesses, organisations, clubs, societies and collectors.
Local Studies is currently located in Library Headquarters on Church Street but will move to a new state of the art facility on Portlaoise main street when the new public library is completed later this year. As part of the new branch Local Studies will offer longer and more accessible opening hours with greater space to accommodate all who wish to explore the collection and service, whether for research or enjoyment. To learn more about Local Studies and how you can donate or contribute to the digital archive, visit www.laoislocalstudies.ie or call Local Studies on 057 8594982