Committee Responds to Review of Libraries Opening Hours

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 19 January 2012

Reference: CAL 05/11/12

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure welcomes today’s announcement from Libraries NI regarding the impact that additional funding, recently secured from the Minister, will have on library opening hours.

Committee Chairperson, Michelle McIlveen, said: “The Committee acknowledges that the additional funding of £2.39m will go some way to relieve the pressure on Libraries NI in terms of reducing library opening hours. It came as a result of the huge response to the consultation on opening hours which the Committee, as well as local communities and action groups, contributed to, highlighting the positive contribution that libraries make to our communities.

The Committee acknowledges that Libraries NI has been faced with some very difficult financial decisions, and although today’s announcement will be seen as positive by many libraries, it will  also be disappointing for those local communities who will see a reduction in opening hours.

Throughout the process, the Committee repeatedly sought assurances from Libraries NI that the needs of local library users will be paramount in any discussions. Before implementing its decisions, Libraries NI must now engage in meaningful consultations with people in these affected areas to identify tailored patterns of opening hours which best suit their needs.”

The Committee has also called on Libraries NI to ensure that any reduction in opening hours will not impact negatively on the future viability of libraries, particularly those libraries which have recently been given a reprieve from closure but which are still subject to further review.

Library services will remain a priority for the Committee in 2012 and it will continue to hold Libraries NI to account.

ENDS

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