My Irish Corner in Cabra Library
Before embarking on the journey to becoming an MLIS graduate, I began my first library placement in Cabra library last summer. Before making the decision to become a librarian I had worked as a substitute teacher in my local Gaelscoil as well as taking on the role as school librarian. I absolutely adored reading with the children, organising the books, and rearranging the room so that the library seemed less like a stuffy storage space and more of a creative space. When I started in the library I noticed how many of the Irish books were scattered amongst the other collections. Since Cabra library is in the vicinity of Gaelscoils I thought an Irish section would be a fantastic resource for the children. With this idea I started to plan how I might start such a project. The staff in Cabra were so supportive, constantly reassuring and encouraging me to use my initiative.
Including my ordinary tasks of the day, I put aside an hour each morning before our doors opened to work on the project. After moving a few shelves around and making some space, I gradually created a cosy and colourful “Cúinne Gaeilge” in the children’s section. I had so much fun decorating the corner with a helping hand from the children themselves who loved taking part in the project. I took inspiration from Pinterest with my “Road Sign Design” and used well-known fairy-tales translated from English to Irish to give the space a bit of familiarity and magic!
One of the main challenges with this project was categorising the reading level of each Irish book and making it easily comprehensible for both children and parents, specifically non-fluent Irish speakers. It took a while to develop this system but in the end I organised the books into five individual categories and colour coded them to distinguish the categories – Picture books (Leabhair pictúir), Translations English – Irish (Aistriúchán Béarla go Gaeilge), Early Readers (Leitheoirí Óg), Fiction (Leabhair Fiscean / finscéal) and Non-fiction (Leabhair neamhfhicsean).
Thankfully, I got to see the positive reaction and feedback from our regular users before finishing up my placement. The children that visited seemed to love the corner as well as their parents and grandparents who complimented our efforts. Our fluent Irish speakers were also delighted to see a dedicated corner for Irish books and asked whether we would do something similar in the adult section. The development of the Irish corner also encouraged the staff to create a “reference corner” for the children, using the same design. The staff thought that individual corners could be organised by themes, creating a set of different and interesting spaces for the children to read or do their homework.
The Cúinne Gaeilge is something very special to me as it allowed me to contribute something unique to the library and at the same time, promote a required resource for the community and local schools. The staff in Cabra were so encouraging and supportive, constantly reassuring me that I was doing a great job and that the corner would be maintained and continued after I left. It was only recently that a librarian from another public library contacted me about how their library had implemented their own “Cúinne Gaeilge” after I had shared my idea on a visit. This was so rewarding to hear as I know just how important Irish books are to students, children, and adult learners. I am hoping that this new, colourful, and welcoming corner will give books “as Gaeilge” a new lease of life and encourage children to take a seat and enjoy the world of Henrí Dána and Fionn Mac Cumhail.
About the Author
Saoirse De Paor is currently completing my MA in Information and Librarian Studies at University College Dublin. She previously graduated with a BA in Geography, Classics and Nua-Gaeilge from Maynooth University. She has previously worked as a substitute teacher in my local primary Gaelscoil and also as their school librarian. She undertook her eight-week library placement in Cabra Library which allowed her to gain a massive amount of experience working in a public library. The staff at Cabra constantly encouraged her to share my ideas and take the initiative! She also got to visit the staff in Pearse St Library and Ballyfermot Library which provided her with a fantastic insight into the different projects and programmes libraries are currently rolling out.