COUNCIL bosses have cut the amount they spend on buying books and stock for North Yorkshire’s libraries by £300,000.
The reduction in funding for new titles, DVDs, newspapers and website subscriptions comes as North Yorkshire County Council looks for ways to cut its budget and involve communities in running the services without making sweeping closures.
The authority’s executive will decide next week whether to implement fresh proposals which would mean libraries in “key centres”, such as Selby, Malton and Norton, Pickering and Sherburn-in-Elmet staying open, but with fewer staff and reduced opening times.
Services in smaller towns, including Easingwold, Helmsley and Tadcaster, would be supported by the council but part-run by volunteers.
The council support would come in the form of accommodation, books, computers and broadband access, as well as having some professional staff on hand.
The authority’s original plans, which could have left 20 libraries facing closure, were fiercely criticised and subsequently abandoned.
But a report on behalf of the council’s corporate director, Derek Law, which will go before next week’s meeting, said the fund for new stock has been reduced by £300,000 during 2011/12, leaving the amount available for buying fresh material at about half the level of three years ago.
This money is instead being used as a one-off subsidy, together with an extra £350,000 of central council funding, to buy more time to look at a proposed “community ownership model”, which would see local groups and organisations offered the chance to help run libraries.
The report said this had the potential to save £1 million over two years, some of which could be used to increase the fund.
The report said: “Any permanent reduction to the stock fund will impact significantly upon the library service’s ability to deliver a good quality service offering reasonable choice, and future performance in almost every area of service would be severely affected.
“Reduction of the book fund will result in a decrease in the business levels and performance of the service as customers turn to other means of obtaining books, via online purchasing or downloads. This will contribute to a decrease in user satisfaction rates, as choice and quality are both important to library users.”
The proposals also include saving £529,000 a year by removing standard mobile libraries from the end of September, although the council’s “supermobile” service would remain, and cutting more than £100,000 a year in back office and support staff costs.