Despite the Celtic Tiger and all the benefits of membership in the European Union, Ireland is not populated by fabulously wealthy people. Not everyone who loves to read has a smartphone with a Kindle app, or an e-reader that suck up novels from cyberspace.
The public library, in response to the instant gratification of immediate downloading that is not available to all, has come up with a system that mimics the borrowing of e-books. With real books. And a real trip to the building where those books are arranged on shelves.
No e-reader, but you're desperate for something to read and the library closed hours ago? Wondering what to do with your free evening when you can't abide the thought of watching some dreary television programme?
Get up off your comfy chair, o avid reader, and get thee to that library that appears to be closed, but is actually open. To those deemed worthy of access.
Don't indulge in your fantasy about having sex between non-fiction stacks. There will be security cameras monitoring your every move.
The same goes for using the library as an overnight place to stay. You won't keep your card long if you're spotted making camp and using the facilities for bathing.
Books will be fitted with various devices to prevent you from stealing them without first doing what the librarian usually does to check out the tomes. Try to leave without following procedure and alarms will ring, gates will drop and the door will lock automatically before the gardai swarm the place. You wouldn't want that, would you? So the State can trust you to behave and not try to steal the only copy of Fifty Shades of Grey?
Didn't find an e-reader under the tree this Christmas? You won't need one in the coming year. The library will be open for you, just like that electronic device you don't have would be like an endlessly open library. Except it will take a bit more effort to actually acquire a book, but at least you'll get a bit of exercise and isn't that one of your New Year's resolutions?