Board is ‘overwhelmed’ by pleas over library cuts plan

LIBRARIES NI will take more time to consider a proposal to cut opening hours in Larne.

The board admitted last week that it has been “overwhelmed” by the response to public consultation on a review of opening hours affecting branches all over the province.

The Pound Street library faces a reduction of 17 hours a week if the review goes through. The move has been opposed by Larne Borough Council and a number of local MLAs.

On Wednesday, the board agreed to defer any decision until January to allow more time to consider more than 7,000 questionnaires returned, along with around 500 other items of correspondence.

Interim chairperson Nigel Macartney 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.”

Mr Macartney said the board “deeply regrets” having to consider the cuts in line with its budget, adding: “We recognise that reduced opening hours will be very difficult for both our customers and staff.”