Northern Ireland

Libraries: More people in NI using facilities says DCAL

Image caption A BBC study shows that 200 jobs have been lost in Northern Ireland libraries since 2010

The number of people using libraries in Northern Ireland has gone up, according to figures released by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).

The department said that 309,756 people used libraries last year, an increase of 3% from 2013/2014.

The figures came after a BBC study found that over 200 jobs were lost in local libraries since 2010.

The study showed that 7,900 library staff had lost their jobs across the UK, 25% of the total workforce.

Image caption The department said minister Carál Ní Chuilín had secured a lower cap for library budget cuts

DCAL said a strategic review in 2009 had led to the closure of 13 libraries, but there were no plans to close any more.

It said Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín had secured Northern Ireland Executive agreement for a proposal that reductions to the Libraries NI budget be capped at 7.5%, instead of the 11.2% cap enforced elsewhere across the department.

"These actions helped to ensure that there were no further library closures," the department said.

It also said £17m had been invested in library capital projects since 2010, including new facilities in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh, and Kilkeel and Moira in County Down.