Belfast Telegraph

Decision on library hours cuts deferred

The Board of Libraries NI has agreed to defer the decision regarding the findings from the Review of Library Opening Hours public consultation until January 2012.

It said the decision would allow it adequate time to review the high level of responses received during the public consultation.

The body said it had to deal with more than 7,000 questionnaires as well as more than 500 items of correspondence.

Libraries NI interim chairman 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 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.

"It is imperative the board has time to review the findings before making such a significant decision and that it has the opportunity to discuss in detail the implications of reducing opening hours with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

"I have been very impressed by the level of support people have shown for their local library throughout this consultation process and it is important that the views of everyone are scrutinised," he added.

"The board of Libraries NI deeply regrets having to consider reducing opening hours to meet budgetary requirements and we recognise that it will be very difficult for our customers and staff."

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