Yesterday (10 January) saw the beginning of the formal consultation period on stage 2 of Libraries NI’s strategic review of services, “Meeting the Demands for A Modern Public Library Service within Northern Ireland”. This stage looks at libraries outside the greater Belfast area. The relevant documentation and an online questionnaire can be found on the website. The consultation continues until 8 April.
While the recommendations contained in Stage 2 do include proposals for 10 library closures and for 2 further libraries to be ‘clustered’ it is worth bearing in mind that this review predates the consultation on the Northern Ireland budget 2011-2015 which is also currently underway and has not been triggered by the proposals for a 9% reduction to DCAL’s budget over that period. The review also identifies libraries which need further development or a rebuild in the medium or long term. A third stage of the review looking at mobile libraries is also planned.
As Libraries NI remarks in its report this is an opportunity “for the first time since 1973, to conduct a review of library provision across the entire public library service” and it deserves a considered response.
Don’t forget, you can also register your support for your library via the Speak Up for Your Library button on the Libraries NI home page.