Possible new home for library

Masham’s under-threat library could move into the town’s community office.

Staff and trustees from the community office have spoken to county council staff about taking over and running Masham library, saving it from council cuts.

The town’s library is one of several across North Yorkshire threatened with the axe if community volunteers do not come forward to take on the service, as the county council struggles to fill a £multi-million funding black hole.

Chair of the Community Office Trustees Mark Cunliffe-Lister said the community office is looking into providing a library service in a room previously used as a learning and IT centre.

Under the plans North Yorkshire County Council would rent the room, but staffing would come from the community office’s employees and volunteers.

A spokesman for the council confirmed that discussions are ongoing between the council and the community office managers about renting the room, and any other kind of support the council would offer.

No decisions will be made until the council executive meets in October but the council is “very hopeful” for a positive outcome.

The community office is itself facing a funding shortfall of around £5000 over the next year and it is hoped taking on the library would give it a brighter future, said Mr Cunliffe-Lister.

“Over the last year we have lost funding from North Yorkshire County Council for the learning centre, and from Business Link and we have seen costs going up.”

However, the office has enough funding reserves to run for at least a year and other funding streams are being explored, he added.

The office has just taken on responsibility for town hall bookings, and is looking into ways of making more money.

The trustees also approached Masham Parish Council for an increase in their funding. The council agreed to continue funding at their current level for a year, but asked the community office to show how they will remain viable before agreeing to a longer period.

Despite this the office will be welcoming a new face this month.

Trustees have appointed a coordinator to take over running the office, and Masham woman Tessa Klemz will start on Monday, June 27.

Tessa will look after the day-to-day running of the office with staff and volunteers, liaise with the councils, take town hall bookings, and promote the town to outside interests.