Expert staff must stay in libraries

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RE: ‘Libraries: You Win’ on Friday February 18 in the Evening News.

£300,000 has been taken from the stock fund to allow some time for local communities to decide how they can run their library service.

Why? For the library service to be effective it needs the dedication and expertise of its staff; all of whom work hours that include evenings and weekends.

Of course volunteers can complement the work of a library service.

Scarborough has the excellent Friends of Scarborough Library who organise activities, fundraise and sponsor events – all of which greatly add to the service.

Yet they would be the first to agree that they are not there to run frontline services; that is a job for well-trained, efficient staff.

Cllrs Bastiman and Backhouse should be pleased that their intervention has played a significant role (along with the thousands of people who have protested in person – more than 200 at Hunmanby and an amazing 500 at Great Ayton alone).

Let’s hope Cllr Jeffels’ efforts to save East Ayton Library are not compromised by his patronising notion that volunteers can simply run the library service in Ayton (or anywhere else) in the future.

North Yorkshire has a library service to be proud of, with events like the nationally recognised Scarborough Literature Festival organised by library staff, but for how long if the county council insists on replacing its expert staff with well-meaning volunteers?

David Fay

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