Opening hours at libraries across the North West look set to be reduced, it’s emerged.
The Board of Libraries NI says it has agreed “reluctantly” to review library opening hours in response to plans to cut £2.4 million from its budget.
Irene Knox, chief executive of Libraries NI, said the draft budget called for savings of 7.5%.
“No libraries will close as a result of these savings,” she said.
A consultation has begun on changes that would mean shorter opening hours for 52 branches across the North and a reduction to its book-buying and maintenance budgets.
Ms Knox said: “Libraries NI was obliged to reduce opening hours temporarily in November 2014 at short notice when it was required to make in-year savings.
“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.”
The proposed opening hours for libraries in the NW are: Creggan (28 hours), Central (54), Shantallow (40), Strathfoyle (25) and Waterside (45).
Ms Knox said the reduction in hours was “very difficult” for both customers and staff.
She said the board “deeply regrets” having to cut back opening hours.
“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,” she added.
She invited the public to take part in a consultation process over the proposed revised hours. That process will be open until April 17.
Survey questionnaires will be available in libraries and online at www.librariesni.org.uk
Once the Board has made its decision, there will be a further period of local engagement with customers.