YORK libraries need £3 million worth of repairs in the next 20 years, and action is needed to make sure the council doesn’t face a “significant financial liability”.

Surveys of library users have revealed  people have “mixed feelings” about the current state of the facilities, and councillors have heard  millions of pounds worth of repairs are needed.

On Tuesday night libraries chief Fiona Williams and the city council’s Charlie Croft spoke to councillors about the future of the service - which after a five year deal with mutual organisation Explore York is due for a new contract.

Reports prepared ahead of negotiations show £3 million of looming repairs needed over the next 20 years, and add: “It will be essential to secure new premises that are more fit for purpose and which reduce this significant financial liability on the council.”

However, Mr Croft told members of City of York’s children, education and communities policy and scrutiny committee that was a “sweeping statement” and should be rewritten to show the council needs a strategy to deal with important repairs, not necessarily to find new premises. "We have to address the £3 million, and we need a strategy that ensures we have fit for purpose buildings that are not falling down,” he added.

The meeting also heard about plans for more reading cafes in city libraries. Fiona Williams, chief executive of Explore, said cafes helped bring people into libraries, and have been especially effective in Acomb.

“Getting through the door can be a bit intimidating for some people at a library, but everybody can cope with having a cup of coffee and once they are in staff can engage with them about coming to storytime with their children, or joining the library.” However, she also said they were having to work hard on figures at the city centre York Explore cafe, as competition and high costs mean it has only been “breaking even” and needs to improve to generate an income.

Councillors also said that in some places, new library cafes would compete with existing independent businesses so should only be introduced where it is desirable for the area.