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Background to the Library Service

Mission statement

Kilkenny County Library Service aims to provide a quality, accessible service which enhances the lives of the communities of Kilkenny, through the provision of a knowledge resource, that promotes imagination, lifelong learning and culture.


The Library Service of the City and County of Kilkenny was established in 1923. The County Council adopted the Public Libraries Act and assumed responsibility for the library service two years later. By then there were library centres in 60 locations in the county. These were staffed by local librarians and volunteers and were established in schools and clubs with book exchanges being conducted approximately three times a year. By 1930 there were 90 such centres around the county although the distribution was far from even. Five of these centres survived into the 1980s at Lawcus (Stoneyford), Ringville, Skeoughvosteen, Urlingford and St. Columba’s.

The Mobile Library Service began operating in 1972 and now makes approximately 60 stops around the county. A new purpose-built vehicle was acquired in 2010 and a revised new Mobile schedule was launched in Autumn 2021. Mobile stops consist of a mixture of community stops, schools, early learning centres and nursing homes.

The branch network was further strengthened during the 1970s with the opening of two part-time branch libraries at Callan and Thomastown. Loughboy Library opened in 1981, providing a second library for the city. Graiguenamanagh opened its doors in 1988 in the south-east of the County while Urlingford Library in the north of the county was established in 1996. This was a unique, co-operative project between the County Council and the local community, with the initiative being completed without any central Government funding. Urlingford was also notable because it was the service’s first computerised branch.  A further library branch was opened in 1999 in Castlecomer on the site of the former Presentation Convent School in the town.The commitment of the service to equality of service, regardless of location was enhanced with the opening of Ferrybank Library in the extreme south of the county in 2012.

New purpose built libraries are in the planning and construction phase for Kilkenny City - the Mayfair replacing the current Carnegie Library and Thomastown.