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Muntpunt reduces opening hours to save on costs
Brussels' biggest Dutch-language library, Muntpunt, has announced it will close its doors an hour earlier on weekday evenings to save costs.
From 1 March, the library in central Brussels will be open on weekdays from 10.00 to 19.00 - instead of 20.00. Saturday's opening hours remain unchanged at 10.00 to 18.00.
The decision to close early has been made as Muntpunt faces soaring energy bills - but also higher wage bills due to salary indexation in line with inflation.
"Personnel and energy costs have risen so much. Something had to be done," said director Roel Leemans.
"It is with a heavy heart that we make this decision, especially since Muntpunt is the only major Flemish library with such a late closing time. No one is happy about this."
But he added: "The last hour of the day is the time slot with the fewest new people arriving.
"We have looked for the solution that causes the least impact, and that is to close an hour earlier in the evening. It is the only way to safeguard what we offer.
"It means we have to heat the building for an hour less, and there's an hour less in staff costs."
Leemans said Muntpunt had received extra financial support from the Flemish government and the Flemish Community Commission (VGC) - in the region of 5% - but this was not enough to cover growing costs, with staff salaries rising by about 11% this year.