THE decision on which libraries should have their hours cut and by how much will not be taken until the new year.
The Board of Libraries met last week and agreed to defer the decision, following a public consultation, until January 2012.
A spokesperson said the decision would allow more time to review more than 7,000 questionnaires and 500 items of correspondance submitted.
Nigel Macartney, Interim Chairperson of Libraries NI, recognised that the dealy may cause concern for staff and library users.
“The Board realises that deferring this decision may add to the uncertainty for some of our library users and staff, however, it is important that all responses to the consultation are studied carefully,” he said.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of response and it is clear that our customers value both the role that libraries play in local communities and the importance of ensuring that opening hours are such that people can access the wide range of services available when they need them most. It is imperative that the Board has time to review the findings before making such a significant decision and that it has the opportunity to discuss in detail the implications of reducing opening hours with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
“I have been very impressed by the level of support people have shown for their local library throughout this consultation process and it is important that the views of everyone are scrutinised. The Board of Libraries NI deeply regrets having to consider reducing opening hours in order to meet budgetary requirements and we recognise that reduced opening hours will be very difficult for both our customers and staff.”