Mobile library stops at budget ‘crossroads’

North Yorkshire County Council backed a cost-cutting plan on Tuesday that will see the region’s library service slashed by £1.7million.

Last week, the Whitby Gazette revealed how mobile library services are set to be abolished and now NYCC has revealed that jobs and opening hours are also likely to be cut, unless volunteers choose to lend a helping hand.

Whitby has been identified as a key centre of population where the full range of services will be available, but with fewer staff employed and opening hours reduced, including no Sunday opening.

The council has suggested that opening hours could be maintained if volunteers were to step up, something that Castleton resident and chair of Rural Action Yorkshire, Linda Lloyd, says is unreasonable: “We are being told that they are going to make everyone redundant and get volunteers to staff it, but that’s totally wrong.

“They are taking jobs away and expecting the public to fill the gaps.”

NYCC is required to save £69million in total over the next few years and is encouraging greater direct community involvement in developing and delivering library services.

County Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for the library and information service, said: “Our library service, one of the best in the country, is at a crossroads.

“The necessity of making savings has provided the incentive for us to step back and come up with innovative solutions to maintain a vibrant service into the future.

“We cannot do this on our own.

“The support of our communities is essential if we are to be successful in this endeavour.”

As reported in last Friday’s Gazette, the mobile library service has been acknowledged as no longer sustainable and will be scrapped from September, although some villages will benefit instead from the supermobile library service.

The county council has welcomed a wide range of ideas for community libraries during the recent consultation.

These include village halls offering outlets and drop-off points for books, and groups offering to become keyholders, taking over library caretaking roles in order to maintain or extend library opening hours.

A further report will be given to NYCC in October outlining the outcome of partnership discussions with communities and will detail how further savings of £1m will be achieved between 2012-2014.