The library was officially opened in Stewarts Hospital on 23 March 2000, and on 31 May it was named after John J. Jennings, a former chairman of the hospital. The facility represents a new approach to addressing information needs and is the result of a partnership between the Department of Health and Children, Stewarts Hospital Services Ltd and South Dublin County Council.
The library is accessible to over 1000 Stewarts Hospital day-attendance and residential clients, and it also caters for the information needs of 600 staff. Public access is also available when required. The library collection of medical journals and books on intellectual disabilities is situated in a small modern building. As a member of the Irish Healthcare Libraries Group, it is part of an extensive network of medical journal information. Nursing and medical databases in both the library at Stewarts and Trinity College Dublin are a source of current information. While the library is of obvious benefit to teaching staff and students, it also goes some way towards providing a resource for families and care-givers and, with the increasing integration of people with learning disabilities in school, work, recreation and other environments, the need for accurate information is becoming increasingly necessary.
There is an additional element that makes the library particularly conducive to helping people with learning disabilities to become effective users. South Dublin County Council Libraries have extended their cataloguing and circulation system (Galaxy) to the Stewarts Hospital Library–including music lending, talking books, an adult literacy collection, daily newspapers and magazines, interlibrary loans, free internet access, children’s/teenage non-fiction, large print, best-sellers fiction collection, audio listening and music keyboard.
The Stewarts Library is proving a great success. People with learning disabilities make up about one-quarter of the library membership. Some require assistance to use the service, but others are able to exploit its resources independently. The library is open from 10am to 4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, until 8pm on Tuesday, and until 3pm on Friday. For further information, telephone: 01-626 4444, ext. 1129; firstname.lastname@example.org (Siobhán O’Neill, Librarian; Mary Roche, Library Assistant).