8:20am Wednesday 15th June 2011
By Andy Walker
RESHAPED plans for the future of library services in part of the region have been agreed by councillors.
North Yorkshire County Council wanted to shave £2m from its libraries budget to help it achieve £69m of savings over the next four years as part of Government targets.
The original plans, which could have seen a number of smaller libraries close, were so unpopular that councillors were forced into a re-think.
Revised proposals, approved by the council’s executive yesterday, will see the mobile library service axed later this year.
Although some branches may still ultimately close, the agreement allows more time for communities to come together to save libraries that may otherwise have fallen victim to the cuts earlier.
North Yorkshire currently has 42 branch libraries, ten mobiles and one "super-mobile" library equipped with internet technology.
The revised proposals include: * Maintaining a full service in larger towns, with fewer staff and reduced opening hours. Branches in this category include Catterick, Northallerton, Richmond, Ripon, Stokesley, Thirsk and Whitby.
* Continuing to support libraries in smaller towns with books and IT facilities, although with reduced staffing. The council will also work with communities to develop these libraries, including those in Bedale, Colburn, Easingwold, Hawes, Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside and Leyburn.
* Working with volunteer groups to save the most remote branches, such as those in Great Ayton, Hunmanby and Masham.
Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for libraries, said: "Our library service is at a crossroads. The necessity of making savings has provided the incentive for us to step back and come up with solutions to maintain a vibrant service into the future.
"We cannot do this on our own. The support of our communities is essential if we are to be successful.
"The challenge is to keep our libraries open in a way that is sustainable so that they can grow and develop to meet future needs.
"One size does not fit all. We will be working with communities on a library-by-library basis."
Another report will be brought before the executive in October, detailing the outcome of further discussions with communities.
It will also detail how further savings of £1m will be achieved in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
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