‘Only a matter of time before libraries close’

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Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has said it is “disappointed” over plans to cut opening hours at local library branches.

Under the proposals from Libraries NI, Ballymena Central and Carrickfergus Libraries are to be reduced from 50 hours per week to 45.

The reduction forms part of an overall package of savings that Libraries NI is implementing.

Further savings will be made in other areas across the service, including the stock budget and building maintenance expenditure.

Responding to a public consultation on the plans, the local government authority said: “MEABC is disappointed to learn that services at Ballymena Central and Carrickfergus libraries are to be cut.

“Council also note that the options provided centre around ‘traditional’ day time opening hours. What customer research or usage data has Libraries NI collated, to date, to determine the options as presented and whether greater demand for access outside 9 to 5 has been considered?

“[We] appreciate that Libraries NI is faced with challenging circumstances in relation to resources and cuts to services may provide a solution to budget shortfall. However, Council believes that libraries are crucial to our communities. If service cuts remains the only option, it is only a matter of time before our community is faced with library closures and staff redundancies.”