Community groups are being asked to take on the running of 20 libraries across North Yorkshire or they could face the axe as council chiefs looks to save £1.6m.
At present North Yorkshire County Council runs over thirty libraries and it says volunteer support will be needed at all libraries, even those it is proposing to continue running, as it struggles to balance its books in the light of budget cuts which has seen its spending falling by some £167m.
It is proposing seven libraries are kept, in Harrogate, Malton, Northallerton, Richmond/Catterick, Scarborough, Selby and Skipton, with both council library staff and volunteers working at them while five smaller libraries, at Filey, Knaresborough, Pickering, Ripon and Whitby, would be run by one council member of staff and volunteers.
North Yorkshire already has nine community libraries, seven of which were created as a result of a earlier round of spending cuts. They are staffed by volunteers, with books and support provided by the county council.
A three-month county-wide consultation on the proposals has now begun with consultation documents admitting that the move may lead to job losses.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for library and information services, said the existing community libraries were a success.
“We can’t deny that they were introduced originally because of the need for us to do our bit to get the country’s economy back on an even keel.
“But the reality is that they have proved to be of enormous value, and their introduction has enabled the people of North Yorkshire to continue to enjoy an effective library service where otherwise they might so easily have seen it diminish or disappear,” he said.
The 20 libraries that could be run by communities are: Bedale, Bentham, Boroughbridge, Colburn, Catterick/Richmond, Crosshills, Easingwold, Eastfield, Helmsley, Ingleton, Kirkbymoorside, Leyburn, Pateley Bridge, Scalby, Settle, Sherburn, Starbeck, Stokesley, Tadcaster and Thirsk.