A rally will take place at Londonderry Central Library on Saturday, June 25, to protest against a Libraries NI proposal to slash opening hours at the local facility by a full day.
The Save Derry Central Library campaign is protesting against plans to slash opening hours from 54 per week to 45 per week.
Libraries NI says it’s obliged to make savings of £2.143m (7.28 per cent) in 2016/17 and in order to live within its budget the opening hours of the local library will have to be reduced to 45 hours per week in November 2016.
A campaign spokesperson said: “Our libraries are being subjected to death by a thousand cuts. If we don’t resist this reduction to opening hours, more attacks will come down the line. These vital community services are being systematically run down.
“Libraries NI are running a so-called consultation on the cuts until July 17, asking how we want them to be implemented. We encourage everyone to respond by clearly stating that we are opposed to any cuts whatsoever.
“This attack is a direct result of Stormont budget cuts. They tell us there is no money to fund our libraries, yet the Assembly Executive plans to give big business a huge tax cut at a costs of hundreds of millions per year from public services.
“On Saturday at 2pm activists, trade unionists and local campaigners will be gathering outside the Derry Central Library to protest against these cuts and demand that Libraries NI, Minister Paul Givan and the Assembly Executive make the necessary funds available to maintain our library services.”
The reduction in library opening hours forms part of an overall package of savings that Libraries NI needs to implement to help meet current budget demands.
Chief Executive of Libraries NI Irene Knox said: “This is not the ideal situation however we must plan for and consider our budget for the year ahead. 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.”
For the consultation, people are invited to complete a questionnaire which can be accessed at any of the 14 libraries affected or online at www.librariesni.org.uk
The new patterns of library opening hours for the 14 libraries will be implemented in November 2016.