A marketing campaign promoting the need for library volunteers launches this month, encouraging people to consider making a difference in their communities by helping keep libraries open.
Libraries are recruiting volunteers to help with a variety of duties, from running children’s story time sessions to helping customers and organising books.
There are currently ten community-managed libraries operating across the county, with a further 20 planned as part of a reconfiguration of the service due to come into effect next year. This change is a direct result of cuts in government funding that have seen the library service budget reduced from £7.8m in 2010 to £4.3m in 2017/18.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Library and Information Services, said: “The response thus far has been superb and I feel confident that the new community libraries will be in safe hands. However, we must not be complacent.
“This campaign is an important reminder of the need for more volunteers in all our libraries and I would encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch. Regardless or your age, background or experience, everyone has something to contribute and a great deal to gain from volunteering.”
The campaign focuses on the real people who volunteer their time in North Yorkshire libraries. By sharing these stories, the County Council hopes other people will make the first move in contacting their local library. In return, libraries can offer people the chance to make a positive difference in their local community and the opportunity to learn valuable new skills.
Alex England, a volunteer at Eastfield library, said: “In year ten I did my work experience at the library for a week and came back to do the summer reading challenge. Then during term time I started running events like games night and a junior book group.
“I’ve definitely learned to deal with people a lot better. You learn about systems, how things work behind the scenes, customer service and problem solving. They’re all things I can put on my CV. That’s what employers are looking for.
“I went to the library all the time when I was little and Eastfield is my childhood library. I grew up reading books there and I remember my parents taking me. It would be such a shame to see any library close when people could keep them open by lending a hand.”
Without volunteers like Alex, the proposed community libraries will close. All libraries, including those that will continue to be run by the County Council, need volunteer involvement to maintain their current opening hours.
Many libraries have held successful recruitment sessions and more events are planned during December and January, along with a volunteer training programme. People can go onto their local library and talk to members of the team about volunteering opportunities or, alternatively, more information can be found on the council’s website, www.northyorks.gov.uk/libraryvolunteers.