Fighting for library hours

Deirdre Breen, branch manager at Lurgan Library with Michael Harte beside his latest exhibition of photographs of Lurgan, old and new which is on display at the Carnegie Street Library. INLM4311-138gc
Deirdre Breen, branch manager at Lurgan Library with Michael Harte beside his latest exhibition of photographs of Lurgan, old and new which is on display at the Carnegie Street Library. INLM4311-138gc

THE fight is on against cutbacks at Lurgan Library.

Last month the ‘MAIL’ revealed plans to cut hours at Lurgan Library from 53 and a half to 40.

Since then the proposal has been roundly criticised by politicians and library users alike.

The ‘MAIL’ is launching a campaign to fight the cuts at Lurgan Library.

Lurgan Library is one of the busiest libraries in the Southern Area and hosts regular events during the day and in the evening. 112 people attended a poetry and music night last week and another large turn out is expected for Halloween storytime and craft session today (Thursday).

We’ve attached a coupon of protest for you to cut out and send to Libraries NI showing your disapproval at the cuts.

We are also encouraging readers to go to Lurgan Library and fill in a questionnaire as part of the consultation in the changes to the library hours. The deadline for the consultation is November 14.

With just three weeks to go until the public consultation on library opening hours ends, the ‘MAIL’ heard from a several library users on what their local library means to them.

Michael Harte and Laurence Menary have been putting on photo exhibitions in Lurgan Library since this time last year.

Kilmore man Michael said: “We started last October with an exhibition for the Lurgan 400 anniversary.

“We’ve had five exhibitions so far this year.

“People come from all over to see these exhibitions. There’s been exhibitions with over 600 people coming in the first couple of days.

“I don’t know of any other library which puts on events like they do in Lurgan. I reckon it’s the best library in the country.”

Local solicitor Paul Haughey spoke of the importance of the library for all walks of life:

“I was brought there by my father and now I bring my own children. It’s okay having books about the house, but libraries have such a vast range.

“You can browse and enjoy the feel of the books in a social setting centred around the culture of reading.”

Paul said the library was a great facility for Lurgan’s sizeable ethnic population who are trying to learn English.

“They’ve got free access to written English and the computers give them a vital link to home,” he said.

“Libraries are no longer simply about books. Lurgan Library is the cement in the middle of our town.

“It’s for all age groups, all religions, all cultures and all social classes.

“Sir John Milton said, ‘Anybody who destroys a book destroys reason’. To destroy a library is to throw reason out the window.”

Library user Jane McCann told the ‘MAIL’: “The library offers us free use of their facilities, computers, newspapers and books. I see school classes every week and have my name down for a free computer class. I have attended local history talks, and musical evenings as well as a family history fair.

“If the local people don’t speak the library will be closing at least one day or maybe three mornings a week as they are going from a 53 and a half hours working week to only 40 hours They are too busy to lose hours.”

Local mum Jenny McLaughlin commented: “I feel we need to get behind the staff to try and protect a much needed service in our town.

“I have been using the library for many years - as a schoolgirl to find help with my homework, to study as a student and now as a mum to borrow books and attend the wonderful rhymetime every Friday morning.

“I see the library as resource for people of all ages and all nationalities, disabled and able bodied people.”