What’s on in York: Wild World Heroes: Summer Reading Challenge 2021

Explore York Libraries and Archives and The Reading Agency have teamed up with theWorld Wildlife Fund to keep children reading over the summer, while challenging them to help save the planet. By taking part in the Challenge for free in Explore Libraries or online, children can join six fictional characters – ‘wild heroes’ – to help solve some of the threats to our natural world, and learn about the importance of the environment while helping to restore nature in ‘Wilderville’.

How to sign up

The Challenge starts on Saturday 17 July and runs until Saturday 11 September 2021.

You can sign up in any Explore York Library, but we are not running the challenge in our cafes or at the Community Stadium this year.

You can find a lot more Reading Challenge activities and sign up to do the challenge online if you prefer this option on the Summer Reading Challenge website

Books you can use for the challenge

You can borrow books from your local library to read, or you can use our e-book or e-audiobook service.

Illustrations © Heath McKenzie 2021

Summer Reading Challenge Activities

From July 5 onwards you will be able to book for our in person socially distanced events. As well as in person events we have activities for you to watch and download. They launch at the date and time next to the event and are available all summer.

You can book our in person events for children online or at a library.

Numbers for events in libraries will be very limited. If you book a ticket and then cannot come please make sure you cancel your ticket so someone else can come instead.

You can find online activities through our children’s activity link.

Saturday 24 July10amLiz Foster’s Wild World Heroes activity sheets.
Saturday 24 July10amRobin Simpson’s Online Nature Stories and Activities. Come dressed as an animal if you wish.
Monday 26 July10amTed Schofield’s Online Picture Adventure Story Workshop. Have a piece of A3 paper, papers for practicing, pencils, crayons and a ruler ready to do the session.
Monday 2 August10amJohn Kirk’s Story Treasure Hunt 1
Monday 2 August10amJohn Kirk’s Story Treasure Hunt 2
Wednesday 4 August10.30 am and 2pmTheatre of Science’s Summer Extravaganza Science Meditation Session (live)
Wednesday 11 August10amTheatre of Science’s Summer Extravaganza: Science Meditation Session (recording)
Arts Award logo

Arts Award Discover is a nationally recognised introductory award aimed at 5 to 9 year olds (although any child can take part.) Explore York Libraries and Archives, York Art Gallery, York Army Museum and All Saints, North Street are offering children the opportunity to gain Arts Award Discover through taking part in any three of our in person or online activities, finding out about an artist or crafts person and telling us about these at a Big Share Event.

Download a record sheet to note down what you have done or just collect all you have made and come to a Big Share Event anytime between 1 pm and 4 pm on Wednesday 1st September in the Marriott Room at York Explore Library or between 1 pm and 3 pm on Sunday 5th September in the Sensory Garden at the rear of York Art Gallery. After talking to you we will apply for an Arts Award certificate for you which will be posted to your home.

Thanks to funding from York Army Museum we can offer these certificates free of charge.

Coronavirus York updates 7th July 2020

Deaths and positive test results

One additional positive Coronavirus test result has been added to the government stats. This brings the cumulative total to 902.

There has been one additional Coronavirus related death in a York care home during the last week (26/6/20) according to ONS published figures

There have been no additional deaths at York Hospital Trust sites

Council expenditure on marketing hits £350,000

The Councils expenditure figures for June have now been published. All accounts for amounts exceeding £250 can be viewed by clicking here.

Taxpayers will be taking a particular interest in the amount being spent on COVID-19 related marketing.

The total has now reached £354,326.65 since February.

City centre signs

This includes ££68,659.00 spent in June.

By far the largest supplier was the York based marketing company “Ideas Group” who were responsible for the Councils post pandemic PR strategy. This included some of the signs that can be seen round the City centre. 

They submitted bills for £43,000 in June.

Libraries reopening

Many of York’s libraries and reading cafes have reopened. Those wanting to borrow books must make an appointment before visiting.

Museum opening plans

York Castle Museum and York Art Gallery will both open to the public again on August 1st. According to the York Museums Trust the Yorkshire Museum will remain closed.

The Merchant Adventurers Hall coffee room will be reopening on Thursday 9th July.

Minster School

The authorities have confirmed that the Minster School will close permanently from the end of its summer term.

Hand sanitisers

The York BID has installed hand sanitiser stations on some streets in the city centre

Park and Ride

The Askham Bar park and ride site – which reopened at the weekend – was very quiet today

Better bus services announced by First York from this weekend

First have issued notifications of the following service changes

Askham Bar Park & Ride has now re-opened; services will operate every 15 minutes at weekends, every 10 minutes Monday-Friday during peak times and every 15 minutes throughout the day.


From Sunday 12th July, the following changes will take place to help with safe, socially-distanced travel for necessary journeys. Full details of the changes and timetables can be found in the ‘Forthcoming’ section of our timetables page. The changes are being made to help manage continued capacity restrictions on buses due to social distancing as further lockdown measures are eased.

City Services

Service 1 – there will be changes to early evening services, and late evening services will be operating to a revised timetable (up to every 30 minutes). Sunday daytime services will be increased to run up to every 20 minutes during busy periods.

Service 4 – there will be changes to early evening services, and late evening services will be operating to a revised timetable (up to every 30 minutes). Sunday daytime services will be increased to run up to every 20 minutes during busy periods.

Service 5/5A – minor timetable changes will be occuring. The 22:00pm and 23:00pm from Strensall will now operate at 21:50pm and 22:50pm respectively, and the 22:55pm from Acomb will now operate at 22:45pm.

Service 6 – there will be changes to early evening services, and late evening services will be operating to a revised timetable (up to every 30 minutes) for the majority of the late evening period. Services will leave Clifton Moor during the evening at 00/30 minutes past the hour, and from Campus East at 15/45 minutes past the hour. Sunday daytime services will be increased to run up to every 20 minutes during busy periods.

Service 10/10A – service timetable has been updated to reduce the amount of time spent waiting at bus stops, due to the current reduced traffic levels.

Service 11 – these buses will run every 30 minutes for the majority of the day.

Service 11S – this service will not operate.

Service 12 – these buses will run every 30 minutes for the majority of the day.

Service 200 – this service will continue to operate 3 early morning services.

University Services

Service 66 – evening and Sunday services will be increased to every 40 minutes.

66A, 66X – will not operate. Alternative journeys will be provided by Service 10, 10A and 66.

Service N66 – will not operate.

Park and Ride Services

Service 2A – service frequency will be increased to every 10 minutes for the majority of the day Monday – Saturday, and every 12  minutes during Sunday daytime. Evening frequency will be restored to every 30 minutes.

Service 3 – will not operate. Alternative journeys will be provided by service 12 between Askham Bar Tesco and York.

Service 7 – service frequency will be increased to every 10 minutes for the majority of the day Monday – Saturday, and every 12 minutes during Sunday daytime. Evening frequencywill be restored to every 30 minutes.

Service 8, 66A, 66X – will not operate. Alternative journeys will be provided by Service 10, 10A, 66.

Service 9 – service frequency will be increased to every 10 minutes for the majority of the day Monday – Saturday, and every 12 minutes during Sunday daytime.

Service 59 – will not operate.

Please only travel if your journey is necessary.

Coronavirus York updates – 10th April 2020


The council says, it “is connecting residents with a wide range needs, from those unable to get an online delivery slot to those who would normally rely on food banks, to food suppliers. Where possible we are supporting local businesses by highlighting those in operation.

This involves a regular check with local suppliers to connect people with the means to pay to the businesses still operating in their area. We use this list to signpost callers who reach us through the COV-19 helpline. We are finding that the information on which businesses operate and their capacity is changing on a daily basis, so printed lists will be out of date very quickly, and for larger print runs before they are distributed.

Those suppliers with confidence in their stocks and delivery arrangements are encouraged to add their listing to the council-sponsored listings at www.yorkmix.com/yorkbiz . This listing is growing daily”.

The list referred to still falls short of requirements.

It is framed as mini adverts which maybe fine for the businesses themselves but not for customers.

It falls short in not providing a comprehensive database – which gives all options for contactless ways of buying and having doorstep deliveries of food and medicines.

Pharmacies and supermarkets are a key part of the supply chain.


Changing the way York Crematorium provides cremation services has been a very difficult and sad decision for the City of York Council to make, but necessary in light of public health concerns. We have listened to the advice around increasing numbers of Coronavirus cases in York, regionally and nationally, having yet reached the peak period of infection for the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Following further discussions with funeral directors and clergy, we will now be allowing one celebrant or minister to perform a short service, that will be filmed free of any charge.

We have attached our statement and updated FAQs for your information.

Micro-grants for businesses

A £1m City of York Council support fund for small and micro businesses which don’t qualify for government support has now been fully launched, with applications now open.

The City of York Council micro business grants scheme will deliver grants of up to £1000 into 1000 self-employed, micro and small businesses who need it most. 

Applications can be made through https://www.york.gov.uk/COVIDMicroGrant and are available to businesses which:

  • have 50 or fewer employees, including one person business/self-employed;
  • need support adapting to new trading arrangements;
  • are experiencing financial hardship due to coronavirus, and
  • do not qualify for any other government grant or rate relief support packages.

The latest information for business is available at www.york.gov.uk/BusinessSupport.

PPE business ask

We are appealing to the Government for additional personal protective equipment (PPE), and asking local businesses for any spare PPE, so it can be used by the authority’s care workers.

Although the council’s care teams currently have sufficient PPE, stocks nationally are running low, and priority is being given to NHS staff.

All our care workers are following national government guidance on the PPE they need to wear. In a similar way to NHS staff, care staff need to use PPE to keep themselves safe from the risk of infection. The items we need are disposable plastic aprons, gloves, black bags, masks, eye protection goggles, alcohol based hand sanitiser and hard surface wipes.

Anyone who thinks they may have useful PPE is asked to email PPE@york.gov.uk. We thank everyone for their support. In fact a number of businesses have stepped forward already, to whom we are incredibly grateful of what is another demonstration of York’s community spirit.

An update on homelessness

From 23 March we have provided 11 households and 12 single homeless people temporary accommodation. While very few of these cases were connected to coronavirus, as a precaution and with support from local organisations, their accommodation meets social distancing criteria.

All the rough sleepers we are supporting are already known to us. The vast majority have accepted the accommodation which each and every one is being offered. We continue to work hard to persuade them all to come into accommodation and to stay in it while the emergency continues.

We have not yet received any additional Government money relating to homelessness to date, nor have we been told how much York will receive.

Virtual libraries

Thanks to £17K of extra funding from City of York Council, Explore is now able to extend the current range of virtual services to support individuals, families and communities of York during the Coronavirus emergency to help people whilst they stay at home.

The extra funding means Explore can now extend what is on offer:

  • Press Reader. Explore will buy a 12 month subscription to Press Reader This will provide  access to over 7000 daily newspaper and magazine titles from more than 100 countries.  
  • More e-books and e-audiobooks
  • Specialist conferencing software to bring people together in a virtual space and invite them to challenge their imagination in new ways.
  • Support with getting online

Coronavirus York updates – 7th April 2020

Libraries mask production initiative

Explore is supporting a fantastic initiative using 3D printers to print safety visors to a design used across Europe and distributing them to frontline workers in York. The project is being led in York by two of Explore Labs digital makers.

Working as a collective they are mobilising local makers to use their skills and equipment to support frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19. Explore York has loaned the project three 3D printers and there is a network of at least 50 more printers today from a standing start of just two printers a week ago.

If you or your organisation know of anyone who can help with equipment, advice or skills please get in touch via the Facebook group 3D Printed Visors for Frontline workers York AREA

If you have a 3D-Printer and want to get involved, email interactandconnect@gmail.com  with ‘I have a 3D printer’ in the subject line.

If you live in York or the surrounding area and need a visor, email interactandconnect@gmail.com  with ‘visor please’ in the subject line. If you don’t live in York they will try and help you find a 3D-Printing group in your area.

FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/groups/PPEforFrontlineWorkers/

Green waste, composting and hedges

The Council is urging residents not to fly tip or burn green waste during the current crisis.

Unfortunately there is still no mechanism, where those with mainly hard-surfaced gardens, can get composting containers. This was raised with the Council several weeks ago when the possibility of the green waste collections being suspended was first highlighted.

With the growing season now upon us, we expect to see the Council issuing advice to the owners of hedges bordering public footpaths to keep them trimmed back. This is essential to assist in implementing the social distancing guidelines

NB Waste crews are working as normal this Easter bank holiday to collect household waste and recycling.

 Coronavirus response live stream

 Four of the leaders of North Yorkshire’s police, fire and crime response to the Coronavirus pandemic will give an and take questions from residents and businesses, in a live broadcast tomorrow (Tuesday 7 April):

 North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan will lead the live update with:

  • Chief Constable Lisa Winward – North Yorkshire Police
  • Chief Fire Officer Andrew Brodie – North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Richard Flinton – Chief Executive of North Yorkshire County Council and Chair of the multi-agency North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum

 People are invited to watch the meeting from 1.30pm on Tuesday on YouTube and submit questions in advance by emailing info@northyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk, posting on Twitter using the hashtag #NYScrutiny or commenting on Facebook. Not all questions will be able to be used, but they will inform the Commissioner’s questioning and the general discussion.

Council contracts and the Library service

Lots of new entries on the public contracts register for the city of York Council (https://procontract.due-north.com/ContractsRegister/Index)  but nothing for local Libraries other than repairs.

Register of York Council contracts 19th Feb 2019

The Council has, however, issued a media release saying that a new 15 year, £32 million value, contract has been awarded to the existing Library Service provider . That would be good news but still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Not least will be the reliance to be placed on “volunteers” helping to provide the service.

It appears that only two tenders were received to run the service. The other is believed to have been from GLL who currently run the Councils sports facilities.

The Council’s media release says,

The new contract, which will commence on the 1st April 2019, will ensure that the city’s existing libraries can remain open over the next 15 years, in line with the agreed vision.

The announcement follows a procurement process to decide which organisation would be best placed to deliver the city’s vision for its 14 libraries and world renowned archives service.

At a previous meeting, the Council’s Executive agreed to provide an additional £300,000 to support the new £32 million library services contract.  The additional funding follows feedback from both bidders involved in the procurement process, and will ensure that all the city’s existing libraries can remain open over the next 15 years of the contract. Full Council will be asked to agree the additional funding at a meeting later this month (28 February).

Plans for the future of the library and archive service in York were shaped by the results of a citywide consultation in 2017/18.

Key proposals for the future service include:

  • York Explore Library to continue as the flagship service centre, including the archives and local history centre
  • Explore Gateways offered at a variety of venues, preferably with cafe facilities, and co-located with other community activities where possible, with local communities invited to be involved in their operation.
  • Virtual libraries providing a 24/7 online service, involving e books and e magazines, with virtual spaces for people to share ideas.
  • Providing reading cafes, encouraging the joy of reading especially for those who may feel uncomfortable in a more traditional library.

Future of York Libraries

The York Council is taking the next steps in a review of the role, function and management of its Library service. The Libraries have been run by an independent social interest company since 2012.  The company’s contract is coming up for renewal.

The Council report looks at what more residents might expect to get from the Library service over the next decade.

The comprehensive report makes it clear that the York Library service is one of the most successful – judged against a range of criteria – in the country.

A “needs assessment” seeks to establish what changes need to be made.  It ranks highly the need to further establish libraries as the “hub” of resilient communities. They would be a focal point for the coordination of local public services and could address issues with inclusion. Learning and skills would be a key objective as would access to health and other advice. They have a role to play in promoting culture.

The 16 existing libraries are generally viewed highly by users. York has more libraries per head of population than most comparable local authorities.

Despite the national trend of library visits declining slightly over time, Explore Libraries footfall has been holding up well, thanks in large part to the reading cafés which have been opened. Compared to other English unitary authorities, Explores performance is upper quartile.

Explore’s footfall in 17/18 across all branches was 1,014,173.

A public consultation exercise revealed that user’s top priorities for the different types of library, the top answers were the same for all libraries: Borrowing books, reading and studying space, local information, events, computers. There was just one exception which was that archives and local history was also a priority for York Explore.

Non-users indicated that the top three things that would encourage them to come to a library in the future was: a reading café on site, better information about services, and more events and activities.

The report talks obliquely about shared buildings. It stops short of proposing he closure of any libraries although some Councillors privately say this is inevitable (and has happened elsewhere).  Unless and until a properly costed and resourced business plan ins produced then the “vision” will not have a future. The devil will be in the detail of any tender document that may be issued.

But the plan could deliver the much needed, and long outstanding, expansion of the Acomb Library. In turn, that could deliver a “one stop shop” public service office – incorporating Housing, Police and health teams.

A useful benefit for the Acomb side of the City.

Pen pictures of each library can be accessed via these links

Consultation starts on future of York’s libraries

 A few days after the York Council endorsed a Liberal Democrat motion aimed at securing existing library services in York, the authority has started a 14-week consultation with residents about library services in the city.

The LibDem motion was tabled at a Council meeting amidst fears that the Tory leadership wanted to impose budget cuts which would lead to library closures.  Tories are also apparently looking to change the Library provider in the city from the current (very successful) Trust to a different contractor.

In 2019 the council is due to enter into a new contract for library services and wants to hear from residents about their future needs to help inform the contract.

A media release from the Council says, “York’s libraries are very successful. The council’s provider, Explore York, has introduced many new services, visitor numbers and book issues are good and the service offers excellent value for money. Library users are very satisfied with the current service, particularly valuing libraries as spaces for the community to come together, where everybody is welcome.

Nonetheless, the council recognises that it cannot stand still, and wants to build on Explore’s success to ensure that the service continues to meet changing needs and expectations in the years ahead.

The council recognises that users want to see improvement in the fabric of the library buildings. This reflects the fact that many of the buildings are in poor condition, needing around £3m spending on them in the coming years. The consultation should help target the council’s investment to best effect.

The council’s vision is to have libraries as centres of learning and opportunity for all. This would see state-of-the-art learning spaces stocked with a broad range of materials that promote reading and literacy and support people with the information they need. Flexible spaces would support formal and informal learning including a range of learning programmes, complemented by the latest digital technologies with free, online access.

Acomb Explore Library

The council’s online survey is seeking feedback on the proposed vision and the range of library buildings to meet residents’ needs. In addition, the council wants to understand future needs, gauge volunteer capacity and ask whether or not people want to see other services co-located in libraries”.

Councillor Ann Reid, interim executive member for culture, leisure and tourism, said: “It is important that we really understand what residents would like to see for the future of their library services and whether our vision for the service and the buildings is on the right lines. I would urge everyone to take this chance to let us know their views.

“To understand what residents would like to see for the future of their library services and whether our vision for the service and the buildings is on the right lines, please complete the survey before Wednesday 14 February 2018 at www.york.gov.uk/consultations. Staff at any library or West Offices will be happy to help.”

The motion carried by the Council against Tory opposition said,

“Save our Libraries” say LibDem Councillors

York Council to debate Lib Dem motion to protect city’s libraries

Acomb Explore Library

The Full Council meeting on 26 October is set to debate a Liberal Democrat motion seeking to prevent a reduction in the total number of staffed libraries across the city.

The future of the library service has recently come under the spotlight with the current five year contract with York Explore due to expire on 30 March 2019. The Executive needs to agree the specification for the new contract in March 2018 to allow the council to run a tender process.

There are sixteen libraries in York, in addition to the archives and the mobile library service. The Liberal Democrat motion seeks to ensure that any re-procurement exercise does not lead to a loss of community facilities.

According to figures from Unison, 478 libraries have closed since 2010 and over 8,000 library workers have lost their jobs.

A LibDem spokesman said, “York’s libraries are popular and well-used by residents – in terms of visits by library users the service is in the top 5% of authorities nationally. This is a position we need to maintain, and if possible improve on, for the benefit of residents.

We have supported the transformation of the library service in recent years, and would like to see even more innovation. For example, options could be explored to forge more links with other public services and community groups so that residents gain more from their library visits.

We hope that councillors from all parties will support this motion and send the strongest possible message that York’s libraries are valued and should be protected.”

The full text of the Liberal Democrat motion:

What’s on in York: BBC Get Creative Weekend!

Here is your chance to join in workshops run by 4 professional local artists in 4 local libraries and loads of creativity for BBC Get Creative Weekend in York.

BBC Get Creative Weekend! – Mosaic workshop with Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg

Date: Fri 7 Apr
Time: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Venue: Bishopthorpe Library
Cost: Free


BBC Get Creative Weekend! – FELT BROOCHES with Kat Wood

Date: Fri 7 Apr
Time: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Venue: Fulford Library
Cost: Free


BBC Get Creative Weekend – PAPER MARBLING with Emily Harvey

Date: Sat 8 Apr
Time: 9.30am – 12.30am
Venue: Copmanthorpe Library
Cost: Free


BBC Get Creative Weekend – ORIGAMI with Linda Tomlinson

Date: Sat 8 Apr
Time: 9.30am – 12.30am
Venue: Dunnington Library
Cost: Free