Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Muir urges library cuts rethink after over £2m spent

I again call upon the Libraries Authority to abandon their plans to cut Holywood and Bangor Library Opening Hours after discovering that over £2m was spent upgrading Bangor Library and nearly £170,000 was spent last year refurbishing Holywood’s Historic library which previously served as Sullivan School.

Libraries NI recently announced plans to slash library opening hours across Northern Ireland. If plans proceed, Holywood Library opening hours will be cut from 53.5 to 40 and Bangor from 65 to 57 hours per week.

I am particularly concerned that Holywood Library will have its doors locked shut for an extra 13.5 hours per week after discovering via a Freedom of Information Request that £169,970 was spent during 2010/11 on Maintenance and Works intended by Libraries NI to ‘broaden its appeal to the local community’. £28,048 was also similarly spent on Bangor Carnegie Library also during 2010/11 after re-opening in 2008 following a much-needed refurbishment and expansion which cost over £2m.

Both libraries are the lifeblood of local communities. Imposing such drastic cuts after investing significant sums to encourage greater uptake seems illogical and could result in the end of the final chapter for Holywood Library.

I encourage the public to make their views known by signing the petition on my website at www.andrewmuir.net or contacting NI Libraries who have a consultation questionnaire running until 14 November which may be completed via local libraries and www.ni-libraries.net

I hope Libraries NI turn over a new leaf and change their plans and this consultation must not be a closed book. The views of local people must be heard and read.