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Proposed library changes in Harrogate – the facts

Library users in North Yorkshire are being asked for their views on proposals to reshape the county’s library service to meet changing demands and changing budgets.

North Yorkshire County Council is putting forward a range of ideas for ensuring the county continues to enjoy first class library facilities despite major cuts in funding support by central Government.

North Yorkshire County Council’s reduction in Government Grant

Since the settlement announcement in December 10 the council now has revised and increased grant loss figures.

2011/2012  the grant loss is £35m.

2012/2013 the grant loss is £14m

2013/2014 the estimated grant loss is £2m

2014/2015 the estimated grant loss is £8m

The council wont know about the latter two years for some time yet –  late in 2012.

Proposals for the library service Budgets

Around £2 million savings over four years have been targeted in the region’s libraries – this leaves £5 million per year spend on libraries.

The library service is currently delivered through 42 branch libraries, ten mobile libraries, one super-mobile and the home library and information service.

An idea of current running costs:-

  • For everyone using a branch library, it costs on average £16.50 per year
  • For everyone who uses a mobile library, it costs on average £77.50 per year
  • Every visit to a branch library costs on average 93p
  • Every visit to a mobile library costs on average £7.

Proposal for future service

  • Eighteen core libraries, geographically spread across the County
  • Two super-mobiles
  • Library on-line (a virtual library service)
  • The home library and information service
  • A network of community libraries run by local communities with professional support from the County Council.

The 42 branch libraries would be reduced to 18 branches and these would be in Malton, Pickering, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, Scarborough, Whitby, Filey, Selby, Sherburn, Richmond, Catterick, Thirsk, Northallerton, Stokesley, Skipton, Crosshills and Settle.

In Harrogate the proposal is to close Starbeck and Bilton libraries.

Further away from the Harrogate, proposed libraries for closure are also Ayton, Barlby, Bedale, Bentham, Boroughbridge, Colburn, Easingwold, Eastfield, Embsay, Gargrave, Great Ayton, Helmsley, Hunmanby, Ingleton, Kirkbymoorside, Leyburn, Masham Pately Bridge and Tadcaster.

The 18 core libraries account for 80% of library users or 70% of the overall library business.

The recent improvements to the Harrogate Central library

Harrogate library has recently undergone a £3.4 million refurbishment. This was funded from both lottery money and NYCC funds. The development was from 2009 and completed in October 2010 and was commenced before any spending cuts placed on NYCC.

  • more spacious layout with more natural light coming into the building
  • more than 250sq.m of additional space has been added
  • extra book capacity has been added meaning that the library now has room for 73,000 books on the shelves
  • more than 35 per cent of the books in the library are brand new
  • there are now 37 public access PCs available in the library
  • Wi-Fi has been installed throughout the building for people to use their own laptops in the study areas
  • Gallery space for exhibitions and the library will be hosting regular events from theatrical performances to author talks and demonstrations
  • Four meeting rooms for hire by the local community and a refreshment area where people can sit and relax; the library has a new changing place for disabled people
  • Increased space for local studies/family history and lots of comfy seating, all in response to the suggestions made by Harrogate residents
  • one of the key elements of the project has been the removal of the existing roof and its replacement by the “lantern” roof originally envisaged by Andrew Carnegie when he donated £7,500 for a library to be built over a hundred years ago
  • Exterior of the library has also been refurbished, with the front of the building being sandblasted, restoring it to its original state when new

Starbeck Library

Is currently closed for refurbishment with a temporary mobile service provided all day on Tuesday and half day on Friday but until 7pm.

Plans for the fully modernised Starbeck library and customer services centre include:-

  • a new centre for the home library and information service
  • a self-service kiosk for people to borrow or return books; a new centre for the school library service
  • new meeting rooms
  • and at least 25 per cent of the books in the new library will be new
  • new refreshment area
  • a new changing place
  • registration services
  • a flexible meeting space for community groups, events etc
  • Handprints – creative art enterprise
  • Bake Well – small baking enterprise
  • day respite service
  • and improved service offered at Meadowbank

Bilton Library

Bilton library is open every day other than Sunday and Wednesday. Opening times vary on the days they are open. Bilton is not currently being refurbished.

Bilton LIbrary in Harrogate
Bilton Library in Harrogate

The Consultation Period

A decision will be made by committee at the North Yorkshire Count Council on 28 February 2011.

Prior to this, the North Yorkshire Count Council is using a consultation period to gain a wide understanding of peoples views and the potential impact of the proposed changes.

They are consulting the following:-

  • County Councillors and MPs
  • Staff Library users Library “friends” groups
  • The general public
  • External and internal partners District councils
  • Parish councils
  • Older People’s Partnership Board
  • Older people’s forums
  • Physical and Sensory Impairment Partnership Board
  • Learning Disability Partnership Board Young people
  • Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups Area committees
  • Voluntary and community sectors Schools Professional bodies, for example the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

The main arguments

  • North Yorkshire Count Council should look at managing and reducing back office functions and overheads before reducing front-line services.
  • 20% of current library users will be effected  for a reduction from £22million to £20 million – approximately 10% reduction in spending but with 20% effected.
  • The use of libraries is generally reducing with the availability of faster internet speeds and more people have computers at home.
  • There are other community meeting places available eg Bilton Community Centre
  • Libraries are much more than just books and they are hub of a community and a meeting place for many individuals and groups.
  • The Borough Councils may be forced to take on the running of the libraries
  • Harrogate is well covered with the current 3 libraries – closing 2 but keeping the main library still retains a library that has relatively easy access to the majority of people

Harrogate-News will cover future developments on this story and welcome your views and comments.

Do you agree with the changes?  take the online poll

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