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  with ‘I have a 3D printer’ in the subject line.

If you live in York or the surrounding area and need a visor, email  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.


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, 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 (  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 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 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