Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries

The Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries are named in memory of Children's Books Ireland's former patron and long-time friend. As a way of honouring Robert's significant contribution to our organisation and to children's literature and reading in Ireland, Children's Books Ireland in partnership with ICLA and supporting publishers, are delighted to award libraries to four schools annually, supported by dedicated Champions of Reading and tailored resources.

Robert Dunbar was a critic, editor and teacher, a pioneer of the study of children's literature in Ireland and a true champion of children's books and their creators. Throughout his career as a secondary school teacher, he was instrumental in the establishment and running of school libraries, and later, as a lecturer in and commentator on children's literature, he strongly supported schools in building and maintaining collections of books which would enhance the lives of their students.

With support of the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency, funds raised at our annual Christmas Table Quiz, and generous donations from various publishers over the years including Gill Books, The O'Brien Press, Little Island Books, Walker Books, Penguin Random House Ireland and HarperCollins Ireland, we have gifted Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries to nineteen schools since the inauguration of the project in 2017-18.

As the project has evolved ...

In 2021, the Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries were brought under our umbrella Every Child A Reader project, along with our other school library book-gifting programmes.

This means that the Robert Dunbar Memorial Library schools will benefit from additional Every Child A Reader print resources, while still honouring Robert's memory. We will particularly focus on schools who have an excellent culture of reading and are well positioned to make good use of the library straight away.

Sign up to our schools email newsletter in the footer at the bottom of this page to be notified when applications open for all of our book gifting and schools projects.

  • A diverse collection of excellent modern titles, covering all ages, interests, genres, forms, themes and issues
  • Live workshops (via Zoom if necessary) with a school-specific Champion of Reading – an author, illustrator or storyteller whose role is to encourage creativity and exploration of the new school library
  • Posters and bunting for school displays, and stickers and a bookmark for every child
  • Flyers for families with tips on fostering a love of reading
  • Resource packs with activities and discussion points relating to books in your new collection
  • Reading guides and themed reading lists on topics such as Mental Health & Well-being, Diversity & Inclusion, Going Green, Rhyme & Verse, Graphic Novels, and Sport
  • All primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • The Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries champion schools with a well-developed culture of reading

The callout for applications takes place each Autumn

Please contact should you have any further queries in regards to this or any of our book gifting initiatives.

Applications must be made by a member of school staff. This ensures we get a complete and accurate picture of the school's needs, status, and demographic. Please feel free to encourage your child’s school to apply.