The future of library provision in rural areas of Ballymena district is ‘far from secure’, despite recent promises, according to North Antrim DUP Assemblyman, Paul Frew.
And one of the areas of provision which he claims will be subjected to cost-cutting is the mobile library service which reaches out to customers in more isolated areas.
Mr. Frew said rural communities should be aware that their libraries are under constant review.
He added: “It has been voiced in local communities that the local library provision in the area is secure. I believe that sending that message out at this time is a fundamental error.
“Rural libraries are always under review and we need to ensure that membership and book issue must be maintained.
“It is also the case that the mobile provision is under threat at this time and people from our local areas like Moorfields, Newtowncrommelin, Cargan, Clough and Carnalbanagh are going to see their service reduced within the new year after being promised by Libraries NI that when and if local libraries are closed they would be covered by healthy mobile service.
“I have been told that Libraries NI are planning to cut frontline staff on mobile libraries by 50% .they are trying to condense their three week service provision into two weeks and also adding schools to this rota - even when schools enjoy their own system.”
Mr. Frew further claimed: “They also plan to replace a mobile library with a transit van. This mobile library provision is the one that visits people living in places like Moorfields and Carnalbanagh and includes people who have mobility issues or who are vulnerable and isolated.
“The staff will have to carry a box load of books into the household of the costumer and leave it there even if the costumer has already read some of the books in the box.
“This is most definitely a reduction in the service that these people have enjoyed and will feel like a loss to them. I will be asking further questions around this issue.”