Boroughbridge Library: Help Needed
The local library in Boroughbridge is one of the victims of spending cuts. Surely it deserves saving?
Times are hard across the country as the government persists with its austerity measures to bring the UK out of recession, and it’s no different in North Yorkshire, where libraries are suffering from the cutbacks. Boroughbridge library lends out DVDs, talking books and large-print editions as well as novels and reference titles. And these days it’s very user friendly, with services ranging from baby changing for mums to WiFi internet access, IT support, and free newspapers as well as meeting rooms for hire and a quiet area for studying. There’s some parking right outside on the street and more free spaces in Back Lane.
“From April 2017, Boroughbridge will become a ‘community managed’ library.”
Despite the fact that the library was visited more than 40,000 times in 2013-14, it is currently only open for 22 hours a week and still costs around £43,000 per annum to maintain and run. Due to the cutting of North Yorkshire County Council’s budget the council held a consultation on the future of libraries across the county, which closed in February 2015. The findings are published here: www.northyorks.gov.uk/article/29733/Library-consultation-results.
NYCC proposed there be three levels of library in North Yorkshire. All will remain part of the North Yorkshire ‘family’ of libraries and all need a level of volunteer involvement. The biggest (for example Catterick) will become ‘core’ libraries; with staff responsible for supporting all the other libraries in the district. They will have some paid staff, but volunteers will manage the daily running of the library. ‘Hybrid’ libraries (for example Filey) are to be overseen by a mixture of local volunteers and representatives of the council, and staffed by a combination of paid and volunteer workers.
From April 2017, Boroughbridge will become a ‘community managed’ library, run by a voluntary management committee responsible for recruiting local volunteers to staff the library. Although the NYCC will contribute to the running costs, provide the books and train the volunteers, the day-to-day management of the library is entirely in the hands of the management committee.
And so BACLA came to the fore. Formed in 2011, Boroughbridge Area Community Library Association is a committee of seven, led by John Helliwell – whose other life is as County Training Manager for North Yorkshire Scouts – and with a mix of local parish and town councillors as well as a representative of Yore Vision. Since 2012, BACLA has kept the library open on Wednesdays by using volunteers and is also responsible for the management of the Jubilee Room above the library. It’s available for hire seven days a week – including evenings – and costs £55 per session or a concessionary £22 for local groups.
North Yorkshire County Council organised a ‘library volunteering’ event on 9 October in the Jubilee Room where 21 concerned Boroughbridge residents attended and, since then, five new volunteers have been opted onto the Wednesday morning library rota. However, BACLA is still actively seeking people to sit on the management committee. Please phone John Helliwell (01423 320731) or email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in volunteering to help Boroughbridge library to become a viable community hub. If you would like to hire the Jubilee Room for a function, please pop in to the Town Council’s office at 1 Hall Square, call them on 01423 322956 or email them (email@example.com).