Decision deferred

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THE decision on whether or not to cut hours at Lurgan Library has been put off until next year.

The Board of Libraries NI met last Wednesday to review the finding of a public consultation into library opening hours, but delayed making a decision on the report until January.

The board say the decision will allow adequate time to review the high level of responses received with over 7,000 questionnaires as well as more than 500 items of correspondence submitted.

One library user told the ‘MAIL’: “I hope this isn’t a stay of execution for Lurgan Library, but rather an indication that the board of Libraries NI have seen sense and are not going to go ahead with these cutbacks.

“Lurgan Library is at the hub of the community and these proposed cuts fly in the face of the good work that’s being done there.”

Nigel Macartney, Interim Chairperson of Libraries NI, said: “The Board realises that deferring this decision may add to the uncertainty for some of our library users and staff, however, it is important that all responses to the consultation are studied carefully.

“We have been overwhelmed by the level of response and it is clear that our customers value both the role that libraries play in local communities and the importance of ensuring that opening hours are such that people can access the wide range of services available when they need them most. It is imperative that the Board has time to review the findings before making such a significant decision.”

The consultation period ended on November 14 and the ‘MAIL’ had launched a campaign to encourage people to make their voices heard in support of maintaining the status quo at Lurgan Library.

Should the original proposal be passed the hours at Lurgan Library would be reduced from 53.5 to 40.

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson commented: “I am pleased to hear that Libraries NI received an overwhelming number of responses through their public consultation and hope that these views will be taken into consideration before any decisions are made.

“Earlier this year I urged local people to call into their Libraries and complete the questionnaire, which was also available online. I am so pleased that there have been over seven thousand questionnaires completed.

“I hope that the views of those people who took the time to complete a questionnaire and who feel so strongly about the future of their library services will be heard loud and clear by Libraries NI.”