Increased hours for Whitehead library branch

Whitehead Library. INCT 37-012-tc
Whitehead Library. INCT 37-012-tc

Opening hours could be increased slightly at Whitehead Library under new proposals.

The plans came about after the Board of Libraries NI agreed to revise opening hours across Northern Ireland as part of savings requirements.

While opening times at Carrickfergus and Greenisland libraries could be cut, the Whitehead branch stands to gain an additional two hours a week from October.

The consultation report suggests that public libraries across Northern Ireland continue to be categorised into bands based on level of use.

The changes propose a total of 50 hours per week at Carrickfergus Library, down from 51 in October 2014, and 25 per week at Greenisland, down from 27 in October.

At the Whitehead branch, however, an increase to 28 hours from 26 is proposed.

A public consultation on the proposed opening hours will run until April 17.

Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said “The Draft Budget for 2015/16 requires Libraries NI to save 7.5 percent 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.”

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.