Home > Libraries supporting a community response to addiction.

Farragher, Louise (2007) Libraries supporting a community response to addiction. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 21, spring 2007, pp. 8-9.

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The Library Association of Ireland is celebrating Library Ireland Week from 5–11 March 2007.  Library Ireland Week ‘celebrates and highlights the role of libraries, librarians and information professionals’.  


A special library, by definition, maintains a more focused and specialised collection than traditional public or academic libraries. While researchers and practitioners based in larger organisations generally have access to a wide variety of library resources, access students and community-based organisations often find it difficult to locate specialised resources.


Many community-based organisations have developed substantial collections of resources which are generally made available to those who use their services.  In this issue of Drugnet Ireland, in recognition of Library Ireland Week, we are featuring two specialist libraries; both are community based and located in Dublin.


When someone needs help, the library is one of the few places where they feel comfortable. Going to a treatment centre may be a much scarier step.

(Barbara Gay, Iowa Substance Abuse Information Centre)1



Urrús is a Ballymun Youth Action Project (BYAP) initiative which provides training in relation to drug misuse.  Founded in 1996, Urrús aims to be a centre of learning and excellence and to develop and increase personal skills, effectiveness and employment potential. Urrús has developed a range of training modules on drug abuse, addiction and community responses. Course participants include members of the community, Health Service Executive, community workers, gardaí, juvenile liaison officers and prison workers. Urrús offers a range of one-day courses:

·         Homelessness and Drugs

·         Crack Cocaine

·         Drug Use and Stress


Other courses are offered on a part-time basis over a longer period of time:

·         Introduction to Addiction Studies

·         Community Addiction Studies

·         Diploma in Community Drugs Work (accredited by University College Dublin)


BYAP has recently moved to new premises in the Horizons Centre on Balcurris Road in Ballymun.  In the new centre Urrús has two dedicated training rooms, a dedicated library and staff offices all in one location. 


The Urrús library is a unique resource which supports the work of Urrús, BYAP, students taking courses through Urrús and all people living, working and studying in Ballymun. It is a reference library; items cannot be borrowed, but the full collection is available to users on the premises.  The collection includes government publications, journals and magazines, international reports, text books, DVDs, video, electronic documents and local drug awareness publications and pamphlets.  The collection covers a wide range of addiction-related topics, including counselling, health, family support, drug policy, education and training.  Library users have access to a work station with a desktop computer, and an additional dedicated study desk.  Urrús staff are on hand to guide users to relevant resources.


 Community Response

Community Response is a voluntary agency based in Dublin 8. The agency believes that the problem of drug use is best addressed by empowering individuals in the community through sharing knowledge, information and skills. Its training and education programmes include:


  • Certificate in Addiction Studies (provided at Liberties College and accredited by NUI Maynooth)
  • Behavioural studies programme  (FETAC level 5)
  • Workshops on addiction in the home, domestic violence and living with AIDS

As well as providing substantial training and education programmes, Community Response supports a large outreach team that focuses on hepatitis C, HIV, health promotion, drug education, community development and family support.


The Community Response Library was set up in 2002 and was dedicated to the late Tommy Larkin in 2006.  As well as a substantial collection of text books, government publications, annual reports, newsletters, pamphlets and news clippings, the library holds a large collection of material on hepatitis and HIV.  Two computer workstations are available to users, providing free internet access and printing services.  Library users also have access to a dedicated study desk and Community Response staff are available to guide users through the available resources.  The library is frequently used for training workshops and as a meeting venue for the local drugs task forces.



Both libraries provide a wide range of addiction-related resources and are used by the community, students and practitioners undertaking further education and training in the addictions.  ‘Libraries are more than just books’, says Sterphanie Asteriadis, Nevada Prevention Resource Centre Coordinator (USA). ‘The more integrated they are into the community system, the more they can connect people with resources, and the better they serve their community.’ 1


Many thanks to Gabrielle Gilligan, Dermot King, Frantisek Anderko and Greg Christodoulu of Urrús and to Derek Byrne, Deborah Taggart, May Peters and Nicola Perry of Community Response for welcoming me to their libraries. 


1. Perdue M (2006) A critical need: libraries can play a role in helping people with substance abuse problems. American Libraries, 37(3): 42–43.


Urrús Library


Horizons Centre, Balcurris Road

Ballymun, Dublin 11

Tel: (01) 842 8071

Email: byap@iol.ie


Tommy Larkin Library

Community Response

Carman's Court

14 Carman's Hall, Dublin 8

Tel: (01) 454 9772

Email: commresp@iol.ie

Please telephone in advance to make an appointment to visit the library.



Do you have an addiction resource library?  The National Documentation Centre on Drug Use is interested in making contact with you to develop an Irish network of addiction libraries and information centres.  Please contact Louise Farragher by phone at (01) 676 1176 ext 159 or by email at louise@hrb.ie for further information.



Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Drug therapy
Issue Title
Issue 21, spring 2007
January 2007
Page Range
pp. 8-9
Health Research Board
Issue 21, spring 2007
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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