Cuts could see Cookstown Library lose 12 hours per week

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Cookstown people will be given the chance to have their say on proposed cuts that could see the library open 12 hours less per week, than in April last year.

Although the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure said she has provided some measure of protection to libraries in the Draft Budget for 2015-16, opening hours have already been reduced from 57 per week in April 2014 to 48 in November.

The department is now proposing that the hours are now reduced a further three per week, in an effort to make further savings - and stave off any closures.

A public consultation on the proposed revised opening hours will take place from 18 February 2015 to 17 April 2015.

The consultation reports suggests that all of Northern Ireland’s libraries should be divided into bands, which will each be awarded a set number hours.

These will range from 54 hours per week for band one to 18 hours per week for band eight libraries.

It has been suggested that Cookstown library should open 45 hours per week, Dungannon 50 hours and Coalisland just 35.

Currently Cookstown operates for 48 hours a week, but these opening hours were put in place as a temporary measure and will remain in place only until the proposed hours can be implemented.

Speaking about the changes, Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said: “The Draft Budget for 2015/16 requires Libraries NI to save 7.5% which equates to £2.385m. No libraries will close as a result of these savings.

“Reducing opening hours is very difficult for our customers and our staff and the Board of Libraries NI deeply regrets having to take this course of action.

“We will consult openly with people during this process and we are inviting people to engage with us regarding the policy and proposals. In all of our actions we want to be fair to customers, to libraries and to our staff.”

Public consultation questionnaires will be available in libraries and on the Libraries NI website – www.librariesni.org.uk.