Library opening discussions

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Library opening hours in Ripon and Boroughbridge are up for discussion in a new consultation launched by North Yorkshire County Council.

Both libraries will see their opening hours cut as the county councils struggles to make savings, and communities are being asked to vote for one of several possible timetables.

Ripon library’s hours have been cut from 48 to 40 per week, and users now have the option of the library closing either all day or half a day every Tuesday in order to see it open earlier and closer later through the rest of the week.

In Boroughbridge, where a community group has been set up to help council staff run the facility, staffed library hours have been cut from 22 to 18 per week. The library will be closed every Wednesday and could be closed each Monday if the community wants to see longer opening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The county council has written to town and parish councils and other partners in December asking for comments, and a copy of proposed opening hours are available in both of the libraries.

The consultation follows the blueprint for North Yorkshire’s library services which county councillors agreed to last November. Under the blueprint the county-wide library service will be based almost exactly on the existing branch network but to make the savings the council needs, opening hours would have to be reduced.

The county council is now consulting on these “staffed” opening hours until the end of January so there is still time for communities and residents to make a response.

However, the library service has challenged local communities and partners to consider how the reduction in hours might be bridged and several communities have come forward with plans involving the use of volunteers as well as the sharing of accommodation.

Boroughbridge Area Community Library Association was formed by volunteers to help run the library, and the group hopes that volunteers may be able to make up the shortfall in hours and possible extend the library’s opening times.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Library Services said: “We have been working very hard over the last year to extend our partnership working with our partners, including parish, town and district councils.

“As a result of excellent partnership working, this means that in some cases we will actually be able to deliver an increase in library opening hours for local communities.”