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Library changes in North Yorkshire

Library changes in North Yorkshire

Published at 6:38pm 7th July 2015. (Updated at 8:05pm 7th July 2015)

Plans to overhaul North Yorkshire's library service have been approved.

North Yorkshire County Council's Executive agreed to increase the proposed library budget by £175,000 to provide some additional dedicated support to help community libraries.

It follows a consultation on the existing service in order to achieve a £1.6 million saving as part of the authority’s overall budget reduction of £167 million. 

The authority says it's acknowledged that the level of savings required will mean a radical transformation in the way that the library service is currently delivered.

Under the recommendations which have been approved, the service will become a networked 'family' of libraries through a partnership with volunteers.

North Yorkshire already has nine community libraries which are staffed by volunteers, with books and professional support provided by the council.

Its aim is to extend this model to another 21 libraries.

The consultation revealed overwhelmingly that the library service is valued highly by North Yorkshire’s residents, and whilst many people back the idea of volunteers being involved, most feel that community-managed libraries would need some dedicated staff input.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Library and Information Services, said: "We hope that today’s decision shows that we have been prepared to listen. We have acted on what people have had to say by taking on board the fact people think community-led libraries would need some dedicated support to be successful.

"The current group of community libraries have gone from strength to strength, expanding way beyond book-lending to become key deliverers of services.

"Our community-managed libraries model has been highlighted by both the Arts Council and the Local Government Association as an example of best practice.

"We now want to make sure that many more community libraries can be successfully introduced in order to retain a much-cherished countywide library service.

"We cannot secure that service without communities stepping forward, but we also acknowledge that communities need some ongoing dedicated support."

Key recommendations agreed:

  • One main town in each of the seven districts of North Yorkshire retains a ‘core’ library with a combination of 60% of current staffing levels and volunteers. They are in Harrogate, Malton, Northallerton, Richmond, Scarborough, Selby and Skipton.
  • Hybrid libraries - large and busy libraries catering for significant resident and daytime populations - with a combination of 40% of current staffing levels and 60% volunteers. They are in Filey, Knaresborough, Pickering, Ripon and Whitby.
  • 21 community-managed libraries will receive dedicated additional support. The highest performing eight - Catterick, Colburn, Cross Hills, Easingwold, Eastfield, Sherburn, Stokesley and Thirsk - will receive 12 to 15 hours per week of additional paid staff support. The remaining 13 - Bedale, Bentham, Boroughbridge, Helmsley, Ingleton, Kirkbymoorside, Leyburn, Norton, Pateley Bridge, Scalby, Settle, Starbeck and Tadcaster - will receive 5 to 7 hours of additional paid staff support. In addition, some financial support for premises costs will be provided.
  • The library service will continue to provide resources (e.g books) to these community-managed libraries; ICT (including computers and connectivity), infrastructure support and access to e-resources (e.g. Ancestry.com).
  • The Home Library Service and a Supermobile service will continue for people who have difficulty reaching a library.
  • The library service will continue to support outlets and local collections in pubs and village halls.

Communities will be given 18 months up to March 2017 to work with the library service on their plans and a further report on progress will be presented to the Executive in December this year.