Deal will see social enterprise running York’s libraries

York Explore library learning centre

York Explore library learning centre

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , mark.stead@thepress.co.uk

CITY leaders are to be asked to sign a five-year deal which will see the running of York’s libraries and archives taken over by a social enterprise.

The arrangement, which will transfer library operations to a “community benefit society”, will be the first of its kind in the UK.

The transfer is due to take place on April 1 as City of York Council looks to cut the service’s costs by £450,000 over three years.

The society, Explore Libraries and Archive Mutual, will be mainly funded by the council but will work on an independent basis, jointly owned by staff and residents who will be able to stand for election to its board. It has been supported with £100,000 of funding from the Cabinet Office.

The move has been opposed by unions who have claimed employees will take on the service’s financial risks and raised questions about the enterprise’s business plan and accountability.

The deal is expected to be rubber-stamped next Tuesday by the council’s Labour cabinet, which says Explore – as the mutual will be known – is York’s best chance of preventing library closures.

Every member will have a single vote once they buy a £1 share, although under-16s will have to be involved in other ways as they cannot legally have membership. Library cards will be separate and remain free.

The council is cutting £250,000 from the library services budget during 2013/14 and needs to save a further £150,000 next year and £50,000 in 2015/16.

Coun Sonja Crisp, cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “Users shouldn’t notice any difference but, behind the scenes, the society will move into place to help assure the future of the city’s excellent provision, which will continue to be run by expert, paid staff.”

Fiona Williams, head of libraries and archives, said the society would build on existing literacy, employability and digital inclusion work as well as promoting reading.

Library cafes were intended to draw in more income which would be reinvested in the service.

Three non-executive directors – Aviva’s head of direct marketing and trading James Henderson, the University of York’s director of community relations and lifelong learning Lesley Booth, and staff director Victoria Pierce – are already in place.

Nominations are being sought for community directors and expressions of interest can be made at York’s libraries.

Comments (14)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:26am Wed 5 Feb 14

Blythespirit says...

The library was ruined when it was 'improved' and turned into 'Explore'. There are now far fewer books and the place has turned into a glorified cafe and meeting place. I no longer use it.
The library was ruined when it was 'improved' and turned into 'Explore'. There are now far fewer books and the place has turned into a glorified cafe and meeting place. I no longer use it. Blythespirit
  • Score: 21

10:30am Wed 5 Feb 14

BL2 says...

I haven't used the library for years - used to go at least weekly until they destroyed it.
I haven't used the library for years - used to go at least weekly until they destroyed it. BL2
  • Score: 9

10:41am Wed 5 Feb 14

MouseHouse says...

Who recruited the three people already in place?
Who else was considered?
What is their role?
What do their Job Descriptions look like?
Who appointed them?
What is their total salary?
What performance bonus scheme are they on, if any?
How often are these roles up for re-election? Or aren't they?

Worrying times for all library users.
Who recruited the three people already in place? Who else was considered? What is their role? What do their Job Descriptions look like? Who appointed them? What is their total salary? What performance bonus scheme are they on, if any? How often are these roles up for re-election? Or aren't they? Worrying times for all library users. MouseHouse
  • Score: 28

10:49am Wed 5 Feb 14

mjgyork says...

VERY, VERY VERY, bad idea. Not least, given AVIVA's history of outsourcing jobs away from York, they are the last people who should be involved. Where are the Libraries going to be run from - Calcutta?
VERY, VERY VERY, bad idea. Not least, given AVIVA's history of outsourcing jobs away from York, they are the last people who should be involved. Where are the Libraries going to be run from - Calcutta? mjgyork
  • Score: 13

11:45am Wed 5 Feb 14

Rankled says...

All this is going to do is prove that a library cannot be run as a business, which is why they have historically been a subsidised service. Unless of course they start hiking up membership fees and charging by the book.

It would be nice if SC put her money where her mouth is instead of saying “Users SHOULDN'T notice any difference", but at the rate things are going she won't be here in 5 years anyway.

I note there is a lack of opposing commentary in the story. I'm surprised the mentioned unions and employees had nothing at all to contribute.
All this is going to do is prove that a library cannot be run as a business, which is why they have historically been a subsidised service. Unless of course they start hiking up membership fees and charging by the book. It would be nice if SC put her money where her mouth is instead of saying “Users SHOULDN'T notice any difference", but at the rate things are going she won't be here in 5 years anyway. I note there is a lack of opposing commentary in the story. I'm surprised the mentioned unions and employees had nothing at all to contribute. Rankled
  • Score: 13

12:14pm Wed 5 Feb 14

CaroleBaines says...

Blythespirit wrote:
The library was ruined when it was 'improved' and turned into 'Explore'. There are now far fewer books and the place has turned into a glorified cafe and meeting place. I no longer use it.
Ruined in your opinion. I go in the library most weeks and it has far more visitors than it used to have. Plus the teaching rooms around the edges are well used offering adult learning activities.
[quote][p][bold]Blythespirit[/bold] wrote: The library was ruined when it was 'improved' and turned into 'Explore'. There are now far fewer books and the place has turned into a glorified cafe and meeting place. I no longer use it.[/p][/quote]Ruined in your opinion. I go in the library most weeks and it has far more visitors than it used to have. Plus the teaching rooms around the edges are well used offering adult learning activities. CaroleBaines
  • Score: 6

12:19pm Wed 5 Feb 14

sparkseffect says...

mjgyork wrote:
VERY, VERY VERY, bad idea. Not least, given AVIVA's history of outsourcing jobs away from York, they are the last people who should be involved. Where are the Libraries going to be run from - Calcutta?
Don't give them ideas, they might take it a step further. Imagine the headline: 'York Central Library relocates to Calcutta."It's still free to use", says Council Leader Jim Jong Un'......
[quote][p][bold]mjgyork[/bold] wrote: VERY, VERY VERY, bad idea. Not least, given AVIVA's history of outsourcing jobs away from York, they are the last people who should be involved. Where are the Libraries going to be run from - Calcutta?[/p][/quote]Don't give them ideas, they might take it a step further. Imagine the headline: 'York Central Library relocates to Calcutta."It's still free to use", says Council Leader Jim Jong Un'...... sparkseffect
  • Score: -8

2:13pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Despairing Yorkie says...

MouseHouse wrote:
Who recruited the three people already in place? Who else was considered? What is their role? What do their Job Descriptions look like? Who appointed them? What is their total salary? What performance bonus scheme are they on, if any? How often are these roles up for re-election? Or aren't they? Worrying times for all library users.
Well MouseHouse, you could either post your paranoid ravings on this site, well-known for the the quality of the experienced opinion-formers who inhabit it, or you could take off your tin-foil hat and.........go and ask library staff!

If you do you will find out that the answers are:
a) two external bods volunteered to help existing library managers to get the new organisation off the ground, as the elections for their posts can't be held until after the new organisation comes into legal existence. The staff director was elected in a secret ballot of all library staff, after a contest in which three staff stood.
b) Role: they are directors of the new organisation. If you don't understand the concept and JD of a "director" perhaps you need to rethink whether you are qualified to comment?
c) See above
d) Salary: none. They are what is called "volunteers" - you may have heard of the concept. They are volunteering so that the actual library service can continue to be run by paid qualified staff rather than simply dumped by the council onto hapless groups of local residents, as is happening in most other councils.
e) Performance bonus scheme: none. See above. (Yes, I know that this idea of "volunteering" because you think something is worth doing for your city for free is difficult for you to grasp out there in Daily Mail land)
f) Re-election: they are up for re-election: wasn't clear to me whether in three years or sooner because these initial directors are interim appointments.
So sorry to rain on your parade MouseHole, sorry House. I was pleasantly surprised to discover all this. My big reservation is whether there are actually any suitably competent people out there who will stand for the community directors posts when they are opened for election - i.e. people who will stand for an unpaid post because they have the interests of the library service and York at heart, not because they have a hobby-horse to ride.
[quote][p][bold]MouseHouse[/bold] wrote: Who recruited the three people already in place? Who else was considered? What is their role? What do their Job Descriptions look like? Who appointed them? What is their total salary? What performance bonus scheme are they on, if any? How often are these roles up for re-election? Or aren't they? Worrying times for all library users.[/p][/quote]Well MouseHouse, you could either post your paranoid ravings on this site, well-known for the the quality of the experienced opinion-formers who inhabit it, or you could take off your tin-foil hat and.........go and ask library staff! If you do you will find out that the answers are: a) two external bods volunteered to help existing library managers to get the new organisation off the ground, as the elections for their posts can't be held until after the new organisation comes into legal existence. The staff director was elected in a secret ballot of all library staff, after a contest in which three staff stood. b) Role: they are directors of the new organisation. If you don't understand the concept and JD of a "director" perhaps you need to rethink whether you are qualified to comment? c) See above d) Salary: none. They are what is called "volunteers" - you may have heard of the concept. They are volunteering so that the actual library service can continue to be run by paid qualified staff rather than simply dumped by the council onto hapless groups of local residents, as is happening in most other councils. e) Performance bonus scheme: none. See above. (Yes, I know that this idea of "volunteering" because you think something is worth doing for your city for free is difficult for you to grasp out there in Daily Mail land) f) Re-election: they are up for re-election: wasn't clear to me whether in three years or sooner because these initial directors are interim appointments. So sorry to rain on your parade MouseHole, sorry House. I was pleasantly surprised to discover all this. My big reservation is whether there are actually any suitably competent people out there who will stand for the community directors posts when they are opened for election - i.e. people who will stand for an unpaid post because they have the interests of the library service and York at heart, not because they have a hobby-horse to ride. Despairing Yorkie
  • Score: 9

6:13pm Wed 5 Feb 14

MouseHouse says...

Despairing Yorkie.

A "rant" consisting of eight questions and a statement of belief.

If you wish to read a "rant" may i suggest you look at your own posting.

I would never read the Daily Fail.
I volunteer at two organisations - time and resources,

My concerns are about any 'free marketeers' getting their feet under the table of what are public services. Anybody with a job title of "head of direct marketing" moving into the world of libraries should set alarm bells ringing. You don't get to that level in a capitalist organisation without having eyes on profit through cutting services and increasing charges.

You'll have to excuse me, I have things to do this evening so I'll be ending my "rant" here.
Despairing Yorkie. A "rant" consisting of eight questions and a statement of belief. If you wish to read a "rant" may i suggest you look at your own posting. I would never read the Daily Fail. I volunteer at two organisations - time and resources, My concerns are about any 'free marketeers' getting their feet under the table of what are public services. Anybody with a job title of "head of direct marketing" moving into the world of libraries should set alarm bells ringing. You don't get to that level in a capitalist organisation without having eyes on profit through cutting services and increasing charges. You'll have to excuse me, I have things to do this evening so I'll be ending my "rant" here. MouseHouse
  • Score: 2

7:31pm Wed 5 Feb 14

petethefeet says...

Do Libraries really have a long-term future? A couple of years ago, the cost of the average lend worked out to be £3.50 whereas most of the (fiction) books available in York Library can be bought for less on Amazon Market Place. Also, libraries are very unpopular with authors as they get nothing from the lend. The future has to be with the internet and e-Readers. Economies of scale should enable such 'lends' for less than 50p, some/most of which would go to the author. Furthermore, just imagine the size of the catalogue that you could browse (compare the online catalogues of Leeds & York libraries. It is not a criticism of York - it's all about scale). Time to move on........
Do Libraries really have a long-term future? A couple of years ago, the cost of the average lend worked out to be £3.50 whereas most of the (fiction) books available in York Library can be bought for less on Amazon Market Place. Also, libraries are very unpopular with authors as they get nothing from the lend. The future has to be with the internet and e-Readers. Economies of scale should enable such 'lends' for less than 50p, some/most of which would go to the author. Furthermore, just imagine the size of the catalogue that you could browse (compare the online catalogues of Leeds & York libraries. It is not a criticism of York - it's all about scale). Time to move on........ petethefeet
  • Score: -1

9:14pm Wed 5 Feb 14

CaroleBaines says...

petethefeet wrote:
Do Libraries really have a long-term future? A couple of years ago, the cost of the average lend worked out to be £3.50 whereas most of the (fiction) books available in York Library can be bought for less on Amazon Market Place. Also, libraries are very unpopular with authors as they get nothing from the lend. The future has to be with the internet and e-Readers. Economies of scale should enable such 'lends' for less than 50p, some/most of which would go to the author. Furthermore, just imagine the size of the catalogue that you could browse (compare the online catalogues of Leeds & York libraries. It is not a criticism of York - it's all about scale). Time to move on........
Well that is exactly why the library has expanded under the Explore brand to promote a vibrant café, teaching in its outer rooms, community activities etc. But the commentators above seem to think this is a bad idea - less books they say. Can't have it both ways.
[quote][p][bold]petethefeet[/bold] wrote: Do Libraries really have a long-term future? A couple of years ago, the cost of the average lend worked out to be £3.50 whereas most of the (fiction) books available in York Library can be bought for less on Amazon Market Place. Also, libraries are very unpopular with authors as they get nothing from the lend. The future has to be with the internet and e-Readers. Economies of scale should enable such 'lends' for less than 50p, some/most of which would go to the author. Furthermore, just imagine the size of the catalogue that you could browse (compare the online catalogues of Leeds & York libraries. It is not a criticism of York - it's all about scale). Time to move on........[/p][/quote]Well that is exactly why the library has expanded under the Explore brand to promote a vibrant café, teaching in its outer rooms, community activities etc. But the commentators above seem to think this is a bad idea - less books they say. Can't have it both ways. CaroleBaines
  • Score: -2

10:08pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Pinza-C55 says...

This is simply privatisation by the back door. At some stage one of these libraries will face a financial crisis and the council will be able to say "Nothing to do with us guv!".
This is simply privatisation by the back door. At some stage one of these libraries will face a financial crisis and the council will be able to say "Nothing to do with us guv!". Pinza-C55
  • Score: 9

11:38pm Wed 5 Feb 14

MouseHouse says...

Pinza-C55 - SPOT ON.
Pinza-C55 - SPOT ON. MouseHouse
  • Score: 5

2:59pm Thu 6 Feb 14

petethefeet says...

CaroleBaines wrote:
petethefeet wrote:
Do Libraries really have a long-term future? A couple of years ago, the cost of the average lend worked out to be £3.50 whereas most of the (fiction) books available in York Library can be bought for less on Amazon Market Place. Also, libraries are very unpopular with authors as they get nothing from the lend. The future has to be with the internet and e-Readers. Economies of scale should enable such 'lends' for less than 50p, some/most of which would go to the author. Furthermore, just imagine the size of the catalogue that you could browse (compare the online catalogues of Leeds & York libraries. It is not a criticism of York - it's all about scale). Time to move on........
Well that is exactly why the library has expanded under the Explore brand to promote a vibrant café, teaching in its outer rooms, community activities etc. But the commentators above seem to think this is a bad idea - less books they say. Can't have it both ways.
Yes, that makes sense. People are looking for a different formulae these days. It's the same with pubs. People bemoan the closure of old-style drinking houses but don't seem to see the plethora of new-style hostelries that are a bit more eclectic.
[quote][p][bold]CaroleBaines[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]petethefeet[/bold] wrote: Do Libraries really have a long-term future? A couple of years ago, the cost of the average lend worked out to be £3.50 whereas most of the (fiction) books available in York Library can be bought for less on Amazon Market Place. Also, libraries are very unpopular with authors as they get nothing from the lend. The future has to be with the internet and e-Readers. Economies of scale should enable such 'lends' for less than 50p, some/most of which would go to the author. Furthermore, just imagine the size of the catalogue that you could browse (compare the online catalogues of Leeds & York libraries. It is not a criticism of York - it's all about scale). Time to move on........[/p][/quote]Well that is exactly why the library has expanded under the Explore brand to promote a vibrant café, teaching in its outer rooms, community activities etc. But the commentators above seem to think this is a bad idea - less books they say. Can't have it both ways.[/p][/quote]Yes, that makes sense. People are looking for a different formulae these days. It's the same with pubs. People bemoan the closure of old-style drinking houses but don't seem to see the plethora of new-style hostelries that are a bit more eclectic. petethefeet
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree