Northern Ireland

Cuts to library stock and opening hours

Books Image copyright ilbusca
Image caption Libraries NI's budget has been cut from £27.7m in 2016-17 to £26.3m in 2017-18

Opening hours at a number of libraries in Northern Ireland are to be cut due to budget pressures.

Libraries NI said the move was due to a 5% reduction in its budget allocation compared to 2016/17.

The baseline budget has been cut from £27.7m in 2016-17 to £26.3m in 2017-18.

As a result, it plans to make savings of £1.4m this year by reducing the amount of money spent on books, other stock, staff and maintenance.

According to figures seen by the BBC, their plans include spending almost £500,000 less on books and other stock.

Meanwhile, staffing costs are to be cut by £650,000.

Frontline library services

The board of Libraries NI said frontline library services would be affected.

Image copyright RyanJLane
Image caption Reduced Summer opening hours could also be implemented to save money

"It will not be possible to maintain the current pattern of opening hours consistently and ad hoc closures are likely to occur across the network of libraries," it said in a statement.

Reduced Summer opening hours could also be implemented to save money.

The budget cut follows a previous reduction from £29.4m to £27.7m between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

'Bear with us'

Libraries NI's chairman Prof Bernard Cullen said that the organisation was acting reluctantly.

"I am asking library users to bear with us during this financially difficult time," he said.

"This is not a position that the Board wants to be in; but one positive is that the current spending proposals are reversible and can be adjusted if and when new funding becomes available."

The most recent figures released by the Department for Communities showed that a quarter of the adult population used libraries in Northern Ireland in 2015-16.

Around 46% of children also used libraries in 2015-16.