Update - January 2011 - stage two of the strategic review is now underway - this time looking at libraries outside Belfast.
As mentioned last week, Libraries NI are currently consulting the public on a near 50% reduction of public library branches in Greater Belfast. Earlier tonight, Libraries NI held a public meeting in the Mount Conference Centre, Woodstock Link. Several East Belfast tweeters were present: PUP’s Dawn Purvis and Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donnghaile. You can follow the gist of the discussion by reading their reproduction of snippets of the meeting below. (Update - Niall has also now blogged about the meeting.)
- Thursday 18 February, 4:30pm - 6:00pm // Rathcoole Library, 2 Rosslea Way, Newtownabbey, BT37 9BJ
- Thursday 18 February, 7:15pm - 8:45pm // Chichester Library, Salisbury Avenue, Belfast, BT15 5EB
- Tuesday 23 February, 4:30pm - 6:00pm // Andersonstown Leisure Centre, Andersonstown Road, Belfast, BT11 9BY
- Tuesday 23 February, 7:15pm - 8:45pm // Grosvenor House, 5 Glengall Street, Belfast, BT12 5AD
@NiallSF // leaving stormont 2 head 2 meeting in the Mount re proposed library closures in belfast
@dawnpurvis // At LibrariesNI consultation in east Belfast...about to start
@dawnpurvis // Irene Knox LibrariesNI presenting vision for future provision for Belfast
@dawnpurvis // I Knox "vision delivered in Dundonald, Finaghy and Bangor" #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // 1st question on why Woodstock Library and others closing ... Audience not happy #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // "No job losses" #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // ppl clearly not happy about any plan to remove library facilities in the east of the city
@dawnpurvis // On to questions...#LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Answer "concentration of libraries in east" #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Audience "new vision is like the marie celeste"n "this is not a business it is a public service" #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Big Q of questions #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // No fire exits in top 2 floors of Ballymacarrett #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // "library not a business but a public service" - very fair point!
@dawnpurvis // Ballymacarrett is a shared resource #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Library plays central role in communities, if you close Ballyhack you take the heart away #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // This is a money exercise #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // people want to know just what the savings will be....
@williamcrawley // @dawnpurvis I tend to use bookshops and online book outlets. Your tweets are making me want to join a local library!
@dawnpurvis // Closing 14 libraries will save est. £50,000 #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // lady from poland has said woodstock library is a valuable resource to support her in learning english
@dawnpurvis // Local Polish woman "library is lifeline for her and her son" #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Elderly "can't go 2 miles on a zimmer to get a book" #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Elderly, minority communities and children use libraries most for 'essential services' #LibrariesNI
@belfastkoala // @dawnpurvis save £50,000 for what? Libraries are more than books, they are community. This is so short sighted. (And books MATTER ... I would have thought encouraging reading at the start and end of life was hugely important
@dawnpurvis // Vision shows lack of iinterest in communities who use libraries #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // woman said she'll march to the hill to demand support for the libraries
@dawnpurvis // Net of proposals will increase social deprivation #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // one man suggested the panel are "creating the conditions for closure"
@dawnpurvis // Increasing elderly population should be used for planning services. How are they expected to travel? Also cost of bus fares! #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Financial matters should not take precedence over people #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // New migrant communities cannot afford travel costs #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Public transport not good for physically disabled - how can I travel? #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // one member of the public suggested "why fix something that isn't broke?"
@dawnpurvis // Banks were bailed out - why not libraries? #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Why are public meetings not held in the libraries? #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Don't think solutions will be forthcoming tonight #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Community places very high value on service you propose to close #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // How are you engaging with young people? Language of consultation doc is not user friendly #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Have asked schools. Have a focus group for young people #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Ballyhack 2nd busiest library in Belfast but 1st place Grove not earmarked for closure #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Politicians, their expenses and ideology all getting a turn #LibrariesNI
@dawnpurvis // Finishing off now. Some very passionate pleas for libraries to stay open. Valuable resources for community #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // according to nipsa rep still no sign of consultation forms made available in minority languages despite being well into consultation
@dawnpurvis // A very good airing of views. Next meeting is Rathcoole. All comments will help form final report which goes to Board in April. #LibrariesNI
@williamcrawley // @dawnpurvis Grove was my first ever library. Still remember the excitement when I got my first library card - the first ID card I ever had!
@dawnpurvis // Important that everyone makes a written submission on the consultation #LibrariesNI
@NiallSF // clear from tonight's meeting that there is a lot of genuine and emotive opposition to any planned library closures in the east...
Update - fair play to them, Libraries NI are publishing notes from the consultation events on their website, including this one.