Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Libraries NI announces opening hours review to make budget savings

Libraries NI in Northern Ireland has announced a review into its opening hours to make further savings, and has confirmed that the temporary reduced hours imposed for its premises from the start of November 2014 (see will now last until autumn this year at least, as plans continue to make £2.385 million in savings.

In announcing the review, Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said "No libraries will close as a result of these savings" and added that "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.” The full announcement is at

A Review of Library Opening Hours 2015 page is now up and running on the body's website at which includes details of the proposed review and a link to a survey for the public to make their views known. The introduction to the survey notes:

The draft Budget for 2015/16 requires Libraries NI to make savings of 7.5%, which is £2.385 million, compared with the initial budget for 2014/15. The draft budget document states 'While the Minister has given the libraries sector a measure of protection from cuts to avoid library closures, there will be reductions in opening hours, and on discretionary spending such as book stocks and building maintenance. Libraries NI will continue to prioritise its resources to encourage new users from areas of social deprivation to make use of the wide range of facilities and activities on offer, whilst at the same time provide a service for everyone. The needs of those in rural communities will continue to be at the forefront of Libraries NI's outreach programme.'

There is a network of 98 libraries in Northern Ireland and in each library skilled and committed staff deliver a range of valued and valuable services to the public. The Board of Libraries NI believes that it is important to maintain the network of sustainable libraries across Northern Ireland, but in order to do so and live within budget it has no option but to reduce opening hours and is, therefore seeking your views on the draft policy and proposals.

"Emergency reduced" opening hours were introduced urgently without consultation in November 2014 because of the in-year budget cut of 4.4%. This consultation relates to the on-going cut in the budget and attempts to regularise the opening hours in accordance with the draft policy.

The revised opening hours take account of the proposed 2015/16 budget allocation to Libraries NI; it is anticipated that this will be finalised in March 2015.


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