A long-term commitment to the success of North Yorkshire’s community libraries is set to be made after a pioneering approach was adopted to deliver services in partnership with community volunteer groups.
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive agreed today to grant leases for a 10-year period to support the continued operation and development of community-run libraries.
The library service continues to provide the infrastructure including books and public IT as well as paid staff support to ensure consistency across the county.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, said: “During national libraries week I visited Bilton and Woodfield Community Library which is a fantastic part of our local community.
“Libraries are much more than just books providing a range of services and activities for all ages. I am proud to support our libraries and I hope North Yorkshire County Council can continue to keep them open.”
This followed the council giving the daily delivery of a number of libraries in April 2017 to newly-formed charitable trusts in the face of mounting financial pressures.
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for libraries, Cllr Greg White, said: “We take great pride in the community-run model with our service being in the top 10 per cent of performance nationally. Working in partnership with communities alongside volunteers in all libraries allows the service to meet local needs.
“There continues to be interest from other local authorities and central government as it is proven to retain high standards whilst delivering savings. The original leases of five years were introduced as the new model was unique and unproven. However, it has been a great success so we are proposing to introduce longer leases which will avoid costs around future renewals.”
The community libraries account for just under 40 per cent of active library users and deliver on average 50 per cent of the total business for book lending and the provision of supported digital access via public computers.
More than 1,000 people visited these libraries to claim their Household Support Fund vouchers this summer and 3,500 children used them as a base for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.