Concern as Richhill library faces closure
THE closure of Richhill Library would be a 'blow' for the village, local DUP councillor William Irwin has said.
The library is one of nine deemed "potentially unsustainable" by Libraries NI, the new body responsible for public libraries in the province.
Gilford and Moy are also among the nine pinpointed for possible closure, after Libraries NI looked at issues such as fitness for purpose, potential to deliver services in the 21st century, location and sustainability.
At a meeting last Thursday, the board of Libraries NI agreed to hold a public consultation exercise on its proposals for the 77 libraries outside Greater Belfast.
The public consultation will run for 12 weeks starting on January 10.
Mr Irwin, MLA, said, "This is obviously a big concern to everyone in the village and the surrounding area who make use of this important service and of course the library staff employed in Richhill.
"Closing a facility such as this in my opinion would not send out a positive message in terms of promoting education and learning and obviously a lot of people will be angered that the library in the village is being described as 'potentially unsustainable'."
He added, "There are a lot of interested groups in the area that will be joining the fight to keep Richhill Library open and I will certainly be voicing my support for it both in Stormont and the Council in Armagh.
He concluded, "I have already received calls about the issue and with the consultation due to start in January I would advise as many as possible to put their views to Libraries NI directly and make them fully aware of just how important the service is in the village."
A concerned Richhill resident, who did not wish to be named, said the library is used not only by people in Richhill but by those from Hamiltonsbawn and other outlying areas. "It would be badly missed," he added.
Dr David Elliott, chairperson of Libraries NI, said, "We believe that libraries have a key role to play, as centres where people of all ages can receive support with learning, access information, explore their cultural heritage or simply spend an enjoyable time reading and choosing books or CDs.
"However, it is imperative that we take a realistic view of libraries that are potentially not fit for purpose or unsustainable in terms of future costs in order to maximise our use of resources, particularly at this difficult time financially."
During the consultation period, a series of public meetings will be held and survey questionnaires will be made available. The dates, times and venues for the meetings will be published in the press and on the Libraries NI website nearer the time.
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