Union slams plans to slash library hours

Carnegie Library, Lurgan. INLM2611-501gc
Carnegie Library, Lurgan. INLM2611-501gc

A top union boss has condemned proposals to slash Lurgan library’s opening hours.

Proposals to cut the opening hours from 50 to 45 have been condemned by the union Unison.

Libraries NI just announced that it plans to consult on chopping the opening hours at Lurgan and 13 other busy libraries.

The consultation is to be held from May 17 to July 17 ‘to identify the most suitable pattern of hours in the 14 libraries concerned’. Libraries NI said: “It is proposed that the opening hours in the 14 busiest libraries will be reduced from 54 and 50 hours to 45 hours accordingly.”

UNISON’ Brian Ferguson said, “This is the 3rd round of cuts to library opening hours since the inception of the Northern Ireland Library Authority. The use of libraries is an integral part of the social fabric of our communities. Use is high and growing as poverty and unemployment increase.

“Cuts in hours has clearly led to staff struggling to meet the demands of the service and expectations of the public. We call on government ministers to think again.”

Chief Executive of Libraries NI Irene Knox said: “This is not the ideal situation however we must plan for and consider our budget for the year. We will continue to liaise with staff, customers and stakeholders throughout this process and we will listen to any concerns raised. If our circumstances change, and additional funding is made available, then it will be used to minimise the reductions in library opening hours.”

For consultation, people are invited to complete a questionnaire which can be accessed at any of the libraries affected or online at www.librariesni.org.uk. The new patterns of opening hours will be implemented in November 2016.