Libraries play a vital role giving access to education and personal development as well as acting as hubs for service delivery
Proposals to cut opening hours will impact vulnerable, disadvantaged and students most
June 19th: Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, called upon Minister Paul Givan to ensure adequate funding is provided to maintain opening hours at libraries across Northern Ireland:
“The history of public libraries is intertwined with the history of working-class social advancement. Although the nature of their use has changed, they remain a vital part of our community infrastructure; in particular for our young people as well as those at risk of social exclusion or disadvantage.
“In order to meet a budgetary cut of £2.1 million, Libraries NI has proposed substantial cuts to opening hours at fourteen major libraries across Northern Ireland.
“Libraries offer working-class people, of all ages, access to basic services – computers, books, the internet as well as provide a necessary social outlet for those who perhaps live alone. They are a lifeline for economic migrants reliant on free library services to communicate with family and friends back home.
“Access to library services is also essential for those claiming job-seekers allowance as they have to meet demanding job application targets every week meaning that they are dependent on accessing limited library resources to meet those targets or face harsh sanction penalties.
“Unite is fully supportive of the campaigns led by local trade councils and other progressives which are striving to reverse these cuts. We call on our members to attend protest rallies on Saturday June 25th at all the threatened libraries and ask the wider public to sign the petition demanding an end to cuts to library services.
“The amount saved through these cuts is relatively meagre but will further undermine the sustainability of library provision in the long-run. Libraries matter to working people; they are a core public service and deserve adequate funding. The NI Executive and Communities Minister, Paul Givan, must ensure adequate funding to sustain current library services”, Mr Kelly concluded.