People queue up to sign petition to save library

Knaresborough Library user Karen Watson signs the petition to stop the library becoming a skeleton service, with petition volunteer Jean Longstaff.

Knaresborough Library user Karen Watson signs the petition to stop the library becoming a skeleton service, with petition volunteer Jean Longstaff.

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The campaign to stop Knaresborough Library becoming a skeleton service has already received a wave of support.

More than 500 people signed a petition in the Market Place last Wednesday and many more have signed up elsewhere.

Plans by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) to restructure its libraries in a bid to save £3.6m on its library budget by 2020 mean it is proposing to cut the number of paid staff at Knaresborough Library from seven to one.

Part of an overall scheme to save £167m, NYCC is aiming to save £2m on its library budget. Nine libraries have already become community-managed.

Petition volunteer Bernie Crosthwaite said: “We were overwhelmed by the level of support on Wednesday. All kinds of people wanted to sign up – school students, young mums, professional people and older folk, too. At times they were queueing up to add their names.”

Under the NYCC plans, Knaresborough library would receive less support than Harrogate and is proposed as one of five libraries, including Ripon, facing large-scale restructuring.

It would have to rely heavily on volunteers to continue running.

Supporters are horrified by the proposal that Knaresborough may become one of the five ‘hybrid’ libraries run by volunteers with just one paid member of staff.

The petition is asking for three full-time members of staff, supported where necessary by a small group of volunteers.

Petition co-ordinator Sonia Starbuck explained that Knaresborough Library is a special case.

“Knaresborough has by far the largest number of visits out of the five ‘hybrids’. The present service would be under severe threat, which would be disastrous for the town.”

She said: “Everyone feels strongly about Knaresborough Library because it’s more than just a library – it’s at the centre of our community. When people visit the library they go to the shops too. If the library service is severely reduced, everyone in Knaresborough will suffer, including businesses.”

If you want to sign the petition to request three paid staff for Knaresborough Library, it can be found at Art in the Mill in Green Dragon Yard, the Cross Keys pub on Cheapside and Castlegate Books in the Market Place.

The NYCC consultation runs until February, and a report will be made to council members in June next year.