SOUTH Antrim MLA David Ford has expressed his concern at proposed cutbacks in library services in the North Eastern Education and Library Board area, including possible closure of Templepatrick and Monkstown.
Mr Ford stated: “These cuts have clearly been driven by the reduction in public spending affecting all parts of the Board’s services, including the library grant from the Department of Culture.
“However, the Board clearly has to respond to this difficult position. I welcome the Board’s commitment to no compulsory redundancies and to a full consultation process. It is important people take every opportunity to discuss what’s being planned.
“Given the limited grant the Board will be receiving, there are clear reasons why it should concentrate its money on the provision of books and other materials, and paying the staff who look after the needs of library users.
“However there has to be a balance between the quality of the service and the accessibility of the service. There is a danger of concentrating facilities into too few libraries, as people across the whole Board area may be unable to get to those centralised libraries.
“It is a pity that the Board has not yet spelt out how it will re-deploy the mobile library service to meet the needs of the communities in the areas where they propose to close branches.
“Councillor Lynn Frazer and I will be seeking a meeting with the Chief Librarian to discuss this issue. We will want to ensure that library users in Monkstown and Templepatrick who cannot travel to larger facilities are still able to make use of library services.”