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Public meetings on local library closures confirmed

Local residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on proposed library closures at two public meetings.

Confirmed this week, the meetings organised by Libraries NI will take place at Cregagh Library, on Wednesday, February 3, and the Mount Conference Centre, on Monday, February 8.

Both meetings will take place from 7.15pm-8.45pm.

Libraries NI is proposing to close six libraries across east Belfast, as part of a three-year modernisation scheme.

Libraries under threat are Ballyhackamore, Tullycarnet, Braniel, Woodstock, Ballymacarrett and Gilnahirk.

The proposed closures have caused concern among regular users, community workers and local political representatives.

And CT readers have already been getting in touch to tell us their views.

Miss Sandra Spence, a regular user of Gilnahirk Library, said she was “horrified” to learn of the proposals.

She added: “I am disabled and reading is one of the few hobbies left to me. Gilnahirk Library may be small as regards the actual building, but it is a much valued and well used part of the local community.

“For myself I am unable to use public transport and again rely on the library being local to me.

“I would like someone from the library board to look at the figures of the books loaned, attendance at the book club and the level of computer use and compare it against other libraries.

“I am so upset by this news. I read about five or six books a week and I know a lot of elderly people who will also be devastated, as the library provides not only books but also valuable social contact.”

John contacted the CT as a regular user of both Braniel and Ballyhackamore libraries.

He said: “I use both libraries to do job searches and check local papers for job vacancies.

“If both my nearest libraries close I would have to walk to the library at Holywood Arches to use the same facilities.

“This would definitely reduce my visits to the library as there is no direct bus route to the Arches from the Braniel estate.

“In my view whoever made this decision has no concept or idea what effect closing both libraries could have on local people.

“I really hope a sensible decision is made and at least one of the two mentioned libraries remains open.”

Marion Todd also got in contact with The CT when she heard that Woodstock Library was facing closure.

She said: “I think it's very unfair. It's an amenity for people and now it won't be there anymore. It's a central point for people. It's a public service and it's not right if it closes.”

Belfast Telegraph