OPENING hours are being extended at a North Yorkshire library newly amalgamated with a key tourist information site, as an unprecedented move to shift the burden of running the service on to volunteer groups gathers pace.
North Yorkshire County Council has announced that opening hours at Malton library, which is planned to be merged with Norton library and now incorporates the town’s Tourist Information Centre, will increase from 40 hours to 46 per week. The move is part of proposals to transfer the running of many of its 42 libraries to volunteers in a bid to counter £69m in Government cuts.
Masham library, one of eight having funding pulled from it, with 14 more having their budgets slashed by 30 per cent, was handed over to the Masham Volunteer Trust last week – with more branches expected to soon follow suit. The county council also plans to remove 36 posts from its 177 full-time library staff, while opening hours in many branches are to be cut despite Malton bucking the trend.
Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for the library and information service, said: “Our library service has been one of the most outstanding in the country, and the necessity of making savings has provided the incentive for us to step back and come up with innovative plans to maintain a vibrant service into the future.
“Our communities have risen to the challenge of finding solutions to keep our libraries open in a way that is sustainable so that they can grow and develop to meet future needs.”
Ryedale District councillor Linda Cowling, said: “This is a natural partnership between two services, dedicated to high standards of information provision. While both the library service and the Tourist Information Centre will continue to have their own special fields of operation, there are many areas where their skills and services overlap, and the staff look forward to working together to offer an even more comprehensive public provision.”