‘Use it or lost it’ call for Gilford

GILFORD residents have once again been asked to make use of their library or face the prospect of losing it.

Knockiveagh councillors John Hanna and Liz Ingram recently pledged their support in the fight to keep the library open at a meeting in Gilford Resource Centre.

A Northern Ireland-wide public consultation into the future of a number of libraries began in January after a major review found Gilford Library, among others, to be “potentially unsuitable.”

Libraries NI is currently encouraging individuals to participate in the Northern Ireland-wide public consultation exercise which started on the 10th January.

The library’s users have been urged to have their say through questionnaires which can be obtained at the library or through an electronic questionnaire which can be completed through library computers or by visiting the Libraries NI website www.librariesni.org.uk.

David Elliott, Libraries NI Chairperson, explained, “We would encourage users and non-users of the public library service to engage with us in this review, to help us to make the right decisions to ensure we provide all library users with a quality service.

“No decisions will be made until the Libraries NI Board considers the feedback that we receive.”

Councillors Ingram and Hanna have called upon the district to show their support for the facility.

“We would like to point out that if the library is closed it will be gone forever and deprive the retired and the young people and future generations from this vital local community resource,” the councillors said in a joint statement.

“This is coming at a time of economic downturn and the whole community feeling financially challenged. If the Library was to close and as has been suggested a mobile unit placed at our new community centre, it would be a total insult and snub to all the work and effort put in by the Gilford community and the council.

“Gilford has suffered many blows from the close of the mill to the retail outlet being relocated to Banbridge to the lack of planning approval for the Gilford Castle Golf Course and Academy project.”

Work is currently underway in Gilford for a £2.75 million community centre and half a million pounds has been donated to the area under the Areas at Risk programme by the Department of Social Development, supported by the council.

Both councillors have demanded a meeting with Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI as soon as possible.