Libraries Are A Vital Resource For Communities, Says Committee

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 25 November 2010

Reference: CAL 04/10/11

Public libraries are at the heart of local communities and any proposed cuts to the libraries budget must be carefully considered. The statement came as the Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure held its weekly meeting in the new Antrim Library.

The new library in the centre of Antrim Town was opened last month by the Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland and provides a much needed place for people to meet, study, use the internet and borrow books and music.

Committee Chairperson, Barry McElduff MLA said: “Although we are now in a very difficult financial period, the Committee believes that libraries, such as this one, should be protected from forthcoming budget cuts.

“Libraries meet government objectives across many departments in that they provide a safe and neutral environment where people of all ages and sections of the community are welcome.

“You just need to look around you today to see how well used this facility is – with people coming to use the internet, carry out research and private study. There are people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Local libraries provide a place where all people—children, the elderly and people from ethnic minorities—can feel part of the community and access the excellent resources available.”

During the visit, the Committee were briefed by Libraries NI—the body that governs libraries— on cultural heritage and from the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure and Foras na Gaelige on the restructuring of the Irish language core-funded groups. They also received a briefing from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on an Irish Language Act.