A REDUCTION in opening hours means evening access to Larne Library is cut by half from this week.
The Pound Street branch which previously opened till 8pm Monday to Thursday, will now only stay open late on Mondays and Thursdays. On all other days it will shut at at 5pm. The present 9.30am daily opening time will be put back to 10am under the new arrangements announced by Libraries NI at the end of a consultation period which began last September and drew 7,500 responses.
The new timetable means Larne library will open 48 hours a week. Opening hours at Carnlough remain as they are, totalling 18 hours.
Revised hours are to be implemented at branches all over the Province in response to savings targets set under the Stormont Executive’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
Libraries NI chief executive Irene Knox acknowledged that the review had been a “lengthy process” involving “high levels of uncertainty”, but added: “I am satisfied that the process of determining the pattern of opening hours for each library is now complete, following surveys in each location.
“The new opening-hour patterns have been based on the principle that the available hours should be used in a way that best meets customer need in each library.” The library board has been under pressure to make cuts in the past year. The Carnlough branch was labelled “potentially unviable” and was only saved from closure after a concerned community campaign, but its future is still subject to review.
Larne Borough Council was one of a number of consultees who opposed the hours reduction at Pound Street, which might have been worse were it not for a £2.39 million budget boost approved in January this year by DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.