Letter: Concerns over North Yorkshire library cuts

Harrogate Library.   (131223M1n)
Harrogate Library. (131223M1n)

It was with great concern that I read of NYCC’s proposal to deliver library services through extensive volunteer involvement.

Not all communities will be in a position to manage their library, and as with Hunmanby Library in 2012, they will be forced to close their doors.

The proposed ‘hybrid’ libraries are to be effectively volunteer-run libraries with one paid staff member.

While viable in the short-term, I worry about the long-term sustainability of this model.

With the pension age being pushed back and the age of first-time home buyers going up, I find it hard to believe that in 20 years’ time, the same number of people will be in a position to volunteer.

Harrogate is termed a ‘core’ library, but will also be staffed by volunteers (in combination with professional staff). I’m left wondering what the proposed ratio of staff to volunteers will be and will ‘core’ libraries still deliver the same services provided currently?

I also wonder if a reduction in paid staff members will lead to a reduction in opening hours?

It’s one thing to volunteer on a weekday, but another thing to volunteer on evenings and Saturdays.

The Government argues that it will continue to meet its legal requirement to provide an adequate public library service, but if these hybrid and core libraries fail in the long-term, will the Government ensure the libraries do not close?

I’m pleased that NYCC isn’t proposing to outright close libraries, but they are relinquishing responsibility of them.

If communities don’t come forward, the Government will close them. And once the libraries close, there will be little chance of getting them back.

Even if they aren’t closed now, the best intentions and enthusiasm can wane over time and are no match for government backing and accountability.

Put more Government services under one roof to save money, but don’t hand more libraries over to the community.

I appreciate drastic cuts need to be made, but this proposal does not sound like the solution. I would encourage individuals to voice their opinions.

Details can be found at your local library or at www.northyorks.gov.uk/libraryconsultation

Rebecca Colby

Valley Drive,

Harrogate