Northern Ireland libraries membership drops after work

image captionMost branches saw a drop in membership after work was completed

Almost half of the library branches that have been recently rebuilt or refurbished have lost members rather than gained them, it has been revealed.

A written answer from Culture Minister Carál ní Chuilín compared the number of members in 22 branches that had extensive works carried out on them.

The work followed the creation of the new libraries service in 2009.

Nine of them have fewer members now than in the year before they were either rebuilt or refurbished.

While many of the rises and falls were small, in Dungannon, where work was carried out in 2012, the number of members almost halved between 2011 and 2013.

However, some libraries did gain members.

Membership in the Antrim branch doubled after being rebuilt, as it did in Whiterock in west Belfast after refurbishment.

In Dromore, County Down and Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, membership after refurbishment was 50% higher than in the year before the work was done.

The library service said some of the figures cover a time when the branches had only just reopened and it says thirteen of the branches have shown increased membership .

It said overall membership had greatly increased.

"Libraries NI is committed to refurbishing its libraries, in line with the resources available, to ensure that they meet health and safety requirements, are accessible and provide a welcoming and comfortable environment," it added.

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