Council set to debate future of libraries

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Senior councillors will meet to consider transferring the running of its libraries to a community society.

York Council’s cabinet is being warned that in the light of Government funding cuts maintaining the status quo is not an option and members will be asked to approve the development of a business plan for a potential community benefit society for its libraries and archive services.

Council bosses in the city argue developing a community benefit society, a form of co-operative, could open up access to new funding streams, grants and trading activities to generate income for the service.

The council’s library service is on track to be the first service in the country to secure its future by developing a community benefit society, and will use advice and support provided by the Cabinet Office.

The authority says this approach supports its ambition to engage the voluntary sector and pursue alternative delivery models tailored to local need, underpinned by membership of the Co-operative Council movement.

Coun Sonja Crisp, cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism said: “Public libraries are vitally important. Their work on literacy, employability, digital inclusion and promoting the joy of reading are key to the community they sit in; providing a welcoming community space for all.”

If members agree, when they meet on January 8, a report will be prepared looking at the issue and it will then be discussed in more detail.