Leading article

Libraries deserve financial support

Libraries provide a vital facility for all sections of our society and the most recent official figures show that they were used by well over 300,000 people, representing an annual increase of three per cent, across Northern Ireland in 2014/15.

It can only be a matter for concern that, as we reported yesterday, some of the busiest outlets, including Belfast Central, Derry City and Omagh, are facing a possible reduction in their opening hours of up to nine hours per week.

A public consultation has been launched on the plans, and it must be accepted that, in difficult economic times, the allocation of government funding has to be kept under the closest possible scrutiny.

However, it will also be hoped that the newly created Department for Communities takes a sympathetic and positive approach to the development of our highly regarded library structures.

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