Despite cuts of 40% in funding, the National Library has trebled digital users from 2009 to 2011 and initiated new programmes.
4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture
In recent years Irish government policy has emphatically located the future success of the country in its ability to reposition as a knowledge society, an aim which has been somewhat displaced of late in the struggle for economic survival. Such a policy has far-reaching effects especially in the field of education. As yet there has been little or no debate on its implications for the arts (see chapter 5.1.7 for an account of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000).
EUR 21 million had been allocated to the National Cultural Institutions for digitisation, outreach etc in the National Development Plan 2007-2013 to provide access from abroad to the national collections. This will not be realised.The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has made a brave attempt to address the digital challenge, despite a 40% budget cut. Online visitor numbers to the Library across all digital platforms almost trebled from 440 000 in 2009 to 1.2 million in 2011 and a concerted effort has been made to redirect service orientation accordingly as part of the most significant transformation programme in the Library's 133-year history. Initiatives included the introduction of an NLI Digitisation Programme; integration of the online catalogue with Google Books, Flickr, Europeana, web crawl data, Google maps, and the Open Library; the launch of the NLI blog as a medium to highlight projects, collections, events and exhibitions, and the behind-the-scenes activity of staff and the commencement of Born Digital collecting activities.
Collaborations with Digital Humanities in Trinity College, Dublin have led to interesting initiatives (see for example dh.tcd.ie/martindiary). The Library has extensive resources – up to 14 million items - awaiting digitalisation but is considerably hobbled by funding and staffing shortages.