Cuts to service hours at Keady Library has been met with deep concern and anger and prompted councillor Thomas O’Hanlon to meet with senior management at Libraries NI.
He has however warned that there is much more to come as the budget crises at Stormont starts to bite.
Speaking after the meeting with Libraries NI on Friday Councillor O’Hanlon explained: “Both Dominic Bradley MLA and I took the message of the community of Keady and indeed the wider area right to the heart of Libraries NI and explained the deep frustration and anger in the local community at the proposals to reduce the hours of Keady Library from 33hours per week to 25hours.
“Let there be no mistake about it, I genuinely fear that this is the thin edge of the wedge, that there will be worse to come as the big two parties at Stormont limp from crises to crises and whilst they argue with each other vital front line services in places such as Keady is being hit hard.
“During our meeting I brought strong letters of support from the community, from local schools and from local support organisations in Keady to the attention of Libraries NI’s senior management. I also highlighted the need for the service in Keady, both for the traditional book lending service but also for the computer suite which is available in the library.
“Keady is a small rural library and I fear it will be the small rural libraries which will be hit hardest from these proposals. We are told that we need to increase the number borrowing books and yet I ask how you do this when you reduce hours. Libraries NI are taking the soft option, they are laying of temporary staff without any consideration of the number borrowing books, the numbers using computers or wider community usage, this really doesn’t add up.
“I have asked Libraries NI to rethink their proposal, I want them to protect small rural libraries as well as the branch in places such as Armagh City. I have asked them to reconsider the proposals and will meet them again the in the coming weeks to see what alternative proposals they have considered in Keady and in the wider branch network locally.”
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