YORK’S libraries are among the best in the country and deserve to be protected, according to some councillors.

The city’s facilities are “popular and well used”, according to Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Cuthbertson, putting the area in the top five per cent nationally when it comes to library use.

Now Cllr Cuthbertson is asking other councillors to back a push to protect the 16 staffed libraries with key negotiations due in the next two years.

He said: “York’s libraries are popular and well used by residents - in terms of visits by library users, the service is in the top five per cent 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.”

Libraries in York have been run by the mutual organisation Explore York since 2014, but the initial five year contract is due for renewal in 2019. That means the new contract specification will have to be agreed by March next year.

Cllr Cuthbertson is putting forward a motion to a council meeting this Thursday, calling for a consultation on a vision for the libraries’ future, and crucially for a commitment to no reduction in the number of staffed libraries.

As a Haxby ward councillor, Cllr Cuthbertson said he had seen the value a library brings to a community as the town has seen its old library close and is fighting to have it reopened in the Memorial Hall.

“Libraries are not just about books and two or three PCs along the wall. There are opportunities for socialising and learning there.”

In Haxby, the mobile library which is serving as a temporary facility is well used, he added, but it is important the new permanent home goes ahead so the mobile library can be used for outreach work. The libraries motion will be debated on Thursday, and Cllr Cuthbertson said he hoped councillors from all parties would support it.

“I 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.”