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


What’s on in York: Discover digital at York Libraries

Discover Digital

Come enjoy a FREE introduction to various digital events over March at various libraries.

Discover Cloud Storage at Haxby Explore Library

Discover Twitter at Poppleton Library

Discover Facebook at Clifton Explore Library

Discover Google Services at New Earswick Library

Discover Microsoft Word at Fulford Library

Discover NHS Online at Strensall Library

Discover which browser is best for you at New Earswick Library

What’s on in York: Grown-Up Crafting

York Explore Library :

Tue 5 Jul :

6.30pm – 7.30pm :

£12 (£10 with a York Card)

July 5_Grown Up Crafting _ImageThe need to craft doesn’t just end when you turn 16! We are inviting you to an evening of grown-up crafting.

There will be four crafts for you to try and take home, as well as our Explore Café Bar and a relaxed, child free environment for you and friends to unwind with a little adhesive spray, pencil crayons and paper folding.

Tickets can be bought online at www.feelinginspired.co.uk or at any York library.

10 tickets max.

What’s on in York: Richard Madeley in conversation with Judy Finnigan

Wednesday 6th July 19:00 at York Explore, Museum Square, York,

TV presenter turned author Richard Madeley is heading to York Explore to discuss his work, including new novel, The Night Book – a dark, suspenseful story set in the Lake District in the heatwave summer of 1976.
Richard will be in conversation with his wife, Judy Finnigan.
The event will be followed by a book-signing, where you can have the chance to meet and chat with Richard and Judy.

Please note: This event will take place at York Explore 

Further details: 01904 620784

York Libraries publish visitor and book issue numbers

York Libraries – now run by a a mutual benefit society with charitable status – have updated their performance stats page. They deserve some credit for doing so on a regular basis – in contrast to some other local taxpayer subsidised QUANGOs who are very reluctant to release  similar information.

Generally visitor numbers have been stable over the last year or so.

The central Explore Library is – not surprisingly – the most used with 530,020 visitors over the last 15 months. It is followed by Acomb (128,277) and Rowntree Park (100,808)

York libraries user numbers

York libraries user numbers

The number of books borrowed is also fairly stable.

York libraries book issues

York libraries book issues

Once again the central library dominates (296,595) against 123,397 at Acomb and 79,938 at Tang Hall.

Rowntree Park had a relatively modest 11,572 issues suggesting that the library there is popular for other reasons (possibly the cafe).

The Library recently had a £100,000 application to the Arts Council granted. It also recently opened a pop-up Reading Cafe in the historic Homestead Park. 

What’s on in York: Baby and Toddler Bookstart Week at York Explore

York Explore Library : Mon 6 Jun – Sun 12 Jun : Various : Free

June 6_BookstartweekWe’ll be going under the sea for this year’s National Bookstart week, join us for a whale of a time!  Lots of fun for babies, toddlers and their carers.

National Bookstart Week is BookTrust’s annual event celebrating the joys and benefits of sharing books & stories every day. We’ll be giving away the special Bookstart story booklets, at every story and rhymetime. This year the chosen book is The Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.

Daily from Monday 6 June to  Sunday 12 June

Under the Sea Trail, Storytimes, Rhymetimes, Colouring & Crafts

FREE, drop in

Mon 6 Jun : Taster sessions of

Baby Massage 10.00am
Baby Reflexology 10.45am
Baby Yoga 2.00pm

FREE but booking is required due to limited places.

Tue 7 Jun : Taster sessions of

Kindermusik 10.00am and 11.00am
Toddler Sense 1.00pm
Baby Sensory 2.00pm

FREE but booking is required due to limited places.

Wed 8 Jun: Save a Baby’s Life Workshop 10.30am

FREE but booking is required due to limited places.

Thu 9 Jun : Browse the Toy Library  10.30am-12.30pm

FREE drop-in

Fri 10 Jun  : Help illustrator Ros Beardshaw create and decorate a giant train in our family workshop 1.30pm

FREE but booking is required due to limited places.

Contact York Explore for more details: (01904) 552828 or york@exploreyork.org.uk