Council unveils new plans for library shake-up

Scarborough Library is set to become a "hub" for other libraries in the borough.
Scarborough Library is set to become a "hub" for other libraries in the borough.

Volunteers will be asked to step-in and help run Scarborough Library in a bid to keep it open amid the latest round of Government funding cuts.

The proposals put forward by North Yorkshire County Council would also see the facility act as a “hub” for other libraries in the borough, including Whitby and Filey.

And Scalby and Eastfield Libraries, which are currently run by both staff and volunteers, would be completely taken over by the community, with “arm’s length” support from Scarborough Library.

Julie Blaisdale, assistant director of library and community services at the county council, said: “It’s quite important to realise Scarborough is not going to be untouched by these proposals. It we want to maintain the current opening hours at Scarborough we are going to require volunteer help with that.

“We are also saying that Scarborough won’t just be there to serve the immediate area, it will be there to oversee the work of all the libraries in the district. It will be the hub.”

The authority has launched a three-month county-wide consultation on the proposals, which will build on the success of the existing community libraries. The initiative was introduced three years ago as a result of the first round of spending cuts.

County Cllr Chris Metcalfe, executive member for library and information services, said: “The current group of community libraries have proved to be a resounding success.

“We can’t deny that they were introduced originally because of the need for us to do our bit to get the country’s economy back on an even keel. But the reality is that they have proved to be of enormous value, and their introduction has enabled the people of North Yorkshire to continue to enjoy an effective library service where otherwise they might so easily have seen it diminish or disappear.

“Libraries are community assets and with the enormous financial pressures the county council is under, we need to appeal to the communities themselves to help keep as many as possible open and available to all those who use them.”

By 2020 the authority will have seen its library budget fall dramatically from around £7.8 million in 2010 to an expected £4.2 million. The reduction is part of a cut of £167 million to the council’s overall spending.

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

The council is asking for the public’s help from volunteers, from local organisations who would be willing to share premises or costs and from local groups who would be willing to take on the management of their libraries.

Consultation events will take place at the following libraries:

• Eastfield: December 1 - 3-7pm

• Scalby: December 3 - 3-7pm

• Scarborough: December

4 - 2-7pm