Possible Library Closures on Committee Agenda

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 18 February 2011

Reference: CAL 09/10/11

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure has heard from Libraries NI —the body that governs libraries— on possible library closures throughout Northern Ireland outside Belfast.

Following a review of over 70 libraries by Libraries NI, 44 were deemed viable, 21 were classed as needing major work or a new building and ten libraries were classed as potentially unviable.

Libraries are considered unviable if they can’t provide services like space for community activities and/or public computers. They are also considered unviable if they are in a state of disrepair requiring major and costly renovations, have few active borrowers and are not in the right location to serve their communities.

Chair of the Committee, Barry McElduff, MLA said: “The Committee is alarmed to hear that ten of our rural libraries have been earmarked for closure. You must not underestimate the value that libraries add to communities, especially in rurally located, socially and economic deprived areas.

“We feel that there should not be a presumption of closure for these ten libraries but Libraries NI should look to engage with the communities to energise library users and encourage new readers to join their local libraries and if it is necessary, to consider sharing buildings with other public institutions.

“We ask Libraries NI to give assurances that they are going to listen to the concerns of the people of these communities and us, the elected representatives. With job losses, school closures and cut backs in transportation routes, something urgently needs to be done to ensure that rural communities do not lose their libraries as well.”