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Library needs support before it loses the plot

Anyone who has visited Belfast Central Library in this year of 'Our City, Our Time' would not fail to be impressed by the restoration of the outside of this beautiful building, but would be dismayed at the changes within.

The 'altar'-like counters in the front hall and the changes made to the lending library are grossly out of keeping with the heritage of this important building.

The whole ambience of the graceful reference library and reading room of the first floor has been marred by makeshift shelving and the removal of many of the tables, so popular with students studying for exams. Furthermore, I understand that staff and library-users were not consulted about these changes.

I can understand that Libraries NI was disappointed when, last September, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure pulled the plug on a £20m refurbishment of all the buildings on this very extensive site. If the work had been done, Belfast would have a library suited to the needs of its citizens, with more books on display, modern storage for its valuable archives and other facilities, such as meeting rooms.

I am writing to alert your readers to the situation at the Central Library and to garner support for the establishment of a Friends of Belfast Central Library group to support the work of this library.

Anyone interested in helping to establish such a group can contact me at colinflinn@hotmail.co.uk.

COLIN FLINN

Belfast

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