More than 7,500 respond to North Yorkshire libraries consultation

Harrogate Library.
Harrogate Library.

More than 7,500 responses to North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) consultation on the future of library services across the county have been collected.

The consultation ended earlier this month, and 5,892 online responses, with 1,739 paper copies, have been collated so far, with more due in from libraries.

These responses will feed into NYCC’s overall approach to libraries as it seeks to cut £1.6m from the library service’s budget - already reduced by £2m in 2011.

Plans to achieve this hope to create a ‘core library’ in each of the county’s seven districts, Harrogate, for example, where volunteers will be needed but much will remain unchanged.

‘Hybrid libraries’ could be created, in places like Knaresborough and Ripon, where all but one member of staff will be stripped out, though premises costs will be met by the council.

There are then 20 libraries, including Starbeck, Pateley Bridge, Boroughbridge, Tadcaster, and Sherburn, that could become completely ‘community managed’, with arms-length support from ‘core libraries’ and reliant on volunteers and partners coming forward to run it.

This cut to the budget is part of the overall regime of cost-saving measures which is seeing NYCC trying to save about £170m by 2020.

By this time, the council will have seen its library budget fall from about £7.8m in 2010 to an expected £4.2m for 2019-20.

Executive member for library services Coun Chris Metcalfe (Con) said: “We have had a tremendous response to our library consultation.

“The response has been far greater than we had hoped for. Communities have shown they place great value on their library service by becoming involved and sharing ideas about how we can shape the future of our service.

“We know our current group of community libraries has proved to be a resounding success.

“Libraries are community assets with the enormous financial pressures the county council is under, we hope we can work in partnership with our communities, as part of our wider Stronger Communities agenda, to maintain an effective and vibrant library service into the future.”

NYCC has held drop in sessions in 33 libraries and a further 45 ‘pop-up’ sessions in places like supermarkets, shopping centres, leisure centres.

Library officers have also attended 20 area committee, parish, and town council meetings and public meetings.

Analysis of the response will be carried out through March and April with a view to preparing an executive report by the end of May.

There will then be further scrutiny via the NYCC’s overview and scrutiny committee in June.

The council’s executive will consider the final report and options and recommendations at the end of June or early July.