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Hours ‘to be cut' at 14 of north's busiest libraries

Belfast Central Library is among 14 due to have their hours reduced in a bid to cut costs

UP to 14 libraries in the north are set to have their opening hours cut under plans announced by Libraries NI.

Under the proposals, opening hours at all of the libraries will be cut by 45 hours per week due to budget cuts.

Several of the libraries saw their hours cut last year and now face further reductions. This is despite figures from the former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) showing a rise in the number of people using libraries.

Some of the busiest libraries, including Belfast Central, Derry City and Omagh, would be open for nine fewer hours per week if the proposals are agreed.

Other libraries, including Dungannon, Enniskillen, Finaghy, Lurgan and Newry, would be open for five fewer hours per week.

Libraries NI chief executive Irene Knox said it had no choice but to reduce opening hours.

"This is not the ideal situation, however, we must plan for and consider our budget for the year ahead," she said.

"We will continue to liaise with staff, customers and stakeholders throughout this process and we will listen to any concerns raised.

"If our circumstances change, and additional funding is made available, then it will be used to minimise the reductions in library opening hours."

A public consultation has been launched on the plans.

The most recent DCAL figures showed more than 309,700 people used libraries in 2014/15, an increase of three per cent from 2013/2014.

The new Department for Communities is now responsible for libraries.

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