Rogers Calls On Libraries NI To Enhance Service In South Down

dn_screenSouth Down MLA Seán Rogers (SDLP) is calling on Libraries NI to give careful consideration to safeguarding and enhancing library services across South Down following its ‘Review of Library Opening Hours’ which is open to public consultation until 17 April 2015.

Mr Rogers said: “The value of libraries within our communities is well recognised and we must do everything possible to safeguard access to library services for all. It is therefore critical that opening times reflect the needs of current users whilst also offering an accessible invitation for use to those who may benefit from engaging with its services.

[caption id="attachment_33053" align="alignleft" width="200"]Séan Rogers MLA has called for local libraries to  be enhanced by Libraries NI. Séan Rogers MLA has called for local libraries to be enhanced by Libraries NI.[/caption]

“It is encouraging to see the relatively high usage reported in the consultation for Warrenpoint, Rathfriland, Kilkeel and Castlewellan Libraries which, collectively, saw upwards of one hundred and twenty five thousand visits in 2013/14. In addition South Down’s two busiest libraries Newcastle and Downpatrick recorded 84,327 and 98,417 respectively”.

Mr Rogers highlighted that the consultation appears to be making every effort to rural-proof its proposals which he described as “reassuring” for predominantly rural constituencies such as South Down.

He also argued the need to increase Newcastle Library’s opening hours from 40 to 45 per week and has asked as many people as possible to engage with the public consultation. He added: “Now is the perfect opportunity to make your thoughts known on the many issues to be considered surrounding library opening hours”.

Further details on the consultation can be obtained via your local library or by visiting:

Consultation on Library Opening Hours Announced

As a result of the savings required by the Draft Budget for 2015/16 the Board of Libraries NI has agreed reluctantly to review library opening hours across Northern Ireland.

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure has provided a measure of protection to the library sector in the Draft Budget 2015/16 which means there will be no library closures but opening hours in a number of libraries may be reduced or will operate with a different pattern. A public consultation on the proposed revised opening hours will take place from 18 February 2015 to 17 April 2015.

The Consultation Report suggests that public libraries across Northern Ireland continue to be categorised into bands based on level of use. The proposal is that libraries in Band One would open for 54 hours per week; those in Band Two would open for 50 hours per week; those in Band Three would open for 45 hours per week; those in Band Four would open for 40 hours per week; those in Band Five would open for 35 hours per week; those in Band Six would open for 28 hours per week; those in Band Seven would open for 25 hours per week; and libraries in Band Eight would be open for 18 hours per week.

The proposed opening hours for libraries within your area are as follows:

libray hours*These opening hours were put in place as a temporary measure, a result of the in-year budget savings required of Libraries NI. These temporary hours will remain in place until the proposed hours can be implemented.

Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said: “The Draft Budget for 2015/16 requires Libraries NI to save 7.5% which equates to £2.385 million. No libraries will close as a result of these savings. Libraries NI was obliged to reduce opening hours temporarily in November 2014 at short notice when it was required to make in-year savings and we now need to regularise opening hours to ensure equity. The temporary opening hours will continue to apply until the new hours are introduced in the autumn.

“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 on the policy and proposals will commence on 18 February and close on 17 April 2015. Survey questionnaires will be available in libraries and on the Libraries NI website:

A draft equality impact assessment and draft rural impact assessment will be available on the website for comment, along with the proposal document. Once the Board has taken its decision on the way forward, there will be a further period of local engagement with customers in every library regarding the actual pattern of opening hours.