North Yorkshire’s communities are being asked for their views on library opening hours as part of a consultation which closes at the end of this month.
The county council has written to town and parish councils and other partners in December asking for comments, and proposed revised opening hours have been distributed via libraries throughout the county.
The revision follows the blueprint for North Yorkshire’s library services agreed by the county council last November which set out a county-wide service based almost exactly on the existing branch network. The plan acknowledged that to achieve necessary savings – while at the same time ensuring libraries do not close – opening hours would have to be reduced. The county council is now consulting on these “staffed” opening hours until the end of January so there is still time for communities and residents to make a response.
At the same time the library service has challenged local communities and partners to consider how the deficit in hours might be bridged and several communities have come forward with plans involving the use of volunteers as well as the sharing of accommodation. For example, the county council has teamed up with Ryedale District Council to relocate the Tourist Information Centre into Malton library, so that the current opening hours at Malton will in fact increase from 40 to 46 hours.
As a result of an excellent partnership between Richmondshire and Leyburn councils, the county council and local volunteers, the community office is moving into the Leyburn library building at Thornborough Hall, so that the library facilities will now be open for more hours – increasing from 23 to 32.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Library Services said:
We have been working very hard over the last year to extend our partnership working with our partners, including parish, town and district councils. As a result of excellent partnership working, this means that in some cases we will actually be able to deliver an increase in library opening hours for local communities.