Ballyhackamore Library Proposed Closure

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Ballyhackamore library protest

Angry protesters took to the streets outside Ballyhackamore Library on Monday, in a show of unity against the proposed closure of the library. 

Organised by public service union Nipsa, the protest was in response to proposals from Libraries NI to close six local libraries, earmarked by the board as “unlikely to be sustainable”.

Along with Ballyhackamore, Tullycarnet, Braniel, Woodstock, Ballymacarrett and Gilnahirk will also be considered for closure, along with eight other libraries across Belfast as part of a three-year proposal due to start this year.

But the message was clear from those gathered at Monday’s protest — local people plan to fight to save the library.

Arnold Gardiner, who has been attending the Monday Painters club in the library for many years, described the news as “very unsettling”.

“I can’t think of a library better than Ballyhackamore,” he said.

“It provides so much for the local community, it is home to many different organisations and we are determined to save it.

“Near local shops, the library is well placed and handy to get to for many local people.”

Ballyhackamore Library lends its premises to a number of community groups, including the newly created Ballyhackamore Bards poetry group.

And the library welcomes the use of its premises for book launches, exhibitions and class visits for local primary schools, as well as providing large print books, newspapers and magazines for users.

Alison Millar, Nipsa assistant secretary, said: “Nipsa intends to oppose the radical and wholesale dissemination of the public library provision in the greater Belfast area.

“It is appalling that only nine months after the creation of the new NI Regional Library Authority that they are planning to remove 45 percent of the public library, provision mostly in areas of high social deprivation.”

Also attending the protest was Belfast Lord Mayor, Victoria representative Naomi Long MLA, who has already voiced concerns at the proposals.

She said: “Ballyhackamore is a very successful library, with regular users in the area. Some of the alternatives put forward by the library service are not suitable for local people.

“The fundamental question is access. If this plan goes ahead people in this area without cars will have to make a long journey to the nearest library.

Across Northern Ireland 32 libraries were assessed, taking into account if they were fit for purpose, if they were capable of delivering on the vision, if they were in the right location and their sustainability.

As part of the scheme other libraries may receive new builds, require minor works, or be clustered together forming a single entity.

A public consultation period began on Monday, January 11, giving people the chance to voice their concerns, until the consultation ends on March 5.

Dr David Elliott, chairperson of Libraries NI has urged the public to raise concerns during the consultation period. He said: “We emphasise that no decisions will be made until the Libraries NI Board has had an opportunity to consider carefully what people tell us.”

Library users voice concerns

Colin Flinn, a retired local man who is a regular library user, said: “This is a local library used by everyone, generating a great community spirit.

“It is great for retired people who can call in, read a newspaper, chat with friends and borrow a book.

“It is the real glue of our community and while it has been under threat before, this threat seems more real.”

Ruth Mackie, now 32, has been a member of the library since she was two.

She said: “This library has been a great resource to me as I was growing up.

“Attending school nearby, it helped throughout my school years, my degree and my masters degree.

“I can’t believe this library, which has so much to offer, is facing closure.”

Ann Carroll, regularly brings her grandchildren to Storytime at the library.

She said: “I think it is terrible that this library might be closing.

“My grandchildren get great benefit from this library and really enjoy the time they spend here

7 Responses to “Ballyhackamore Library Proposed Closure”

  1. make money says:

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  2. wendy says:

    I was unaware of a protest being organised as I would have taken part with my family. This closure would be a disaster for the local region – I say sack the administrators of Libraries NI and put the money back into the libraries instead!

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  4. Alison says:

    I fully support keeping Ballyhackamore library. I am there several times a week with my young boys to choose bedtime books and to attend their various craft workshops. It will be a sad loss if they closed the doors.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I was unemployed for a period before finding work in London, I will never forget the part this library played in helping me through this period. An incredible resource used by all ages. I'm 23.

  6. Young Urbain says:

    I have to say that I really enjoy this website. I thought I would drop a comment and say what a great job you've done. I wish more sites would put so much effort into their website. Keep the posts coming.

  7. Barry says:

    I sincerely hope the library does not close, its been such a great asset to the ballyhack community over the years. Every community needs a library i think.

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