Ballymoney slashes library opening hours

BALLYMONEY Library is to slash its opening hours from 57 per week to just 40.

As a result of the savings requirements in the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Board of Libraries NI has agreed reluctantly to review library opening hours across Northern Ireland.

As Libraries NI has made significant savings in its first two years, the Board has a limited number of options to meet its financial targets. By reducing library opening hours, the Board hopes to achieve savings targets and protect the network of sustainable libraries.

The Review of Opening Hours proposes that all public libraries across Northern Ireland are categorised into one of four bands based on level of use. This means that libraries in Band 1 would open for 57 hours per week; those in Band 2 would open for 40 hours per week; those in Band 3 would open for 30 hours per week; and libraries in Band 4 would open for 18 hours per week.

Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said: “Over the next four years, Libraries NI has to make cumulative savings of approximately £10.3 million. In our first two years of operation we have already made efficiency savings of £2.7 million and there is therefore little scope to make additional savings without impacting the provision of frontline services.

“Reduced opening hours will be very difficult for both our customers and our staff and the Board of Libraries NI deeply regrets having to take this course of action. We will consult openly with people during this process and we are inviting people to engage with us regarding the proposals. In all of our actions we want to be fair to customers, to libraries and to our staff.”

Public consultation on the proposal will commence on 12th September and survey questionnaires will be made available until 14th November in libraries or can be accessed through the Libraries NI website – www.librariesni.org.uk.

A draft equality impact assessment and draft rural impact assessment will be available on the website for comment, along with the proposal document.

Once the Board has taken its decision on the way forward, there will be a further period of local engagement with customers in every library regarding the actual pattern of opening hours.

It is believed any proposed changes, if approved, will not be implemented prior to March 2012.

Ballycastle library is also to have it’s opening hours cut.

See further inside for comments from the Mayor of Ballymoney and other politicians.