YORK’S libraries will see their funding stay at current levels for the next 15 years, according to city council bosses drawing up a new deal for the service.

The contract to run York’s libraries and archives service is due for renewal early next year, and council bosses are set to agree specifications of what they want at a meeting next week.

The deal would appoint an operator for the next 15 years in a deal worth £32 million, which official documents say keeps funding levels stable despite tight budgets.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, York’s executive member for leisure and culture, said with local government finance “under real pressure” York was keeping all its libraries open and even opening a new one at Burnholme.

He added: “York residents are rightly proud of our libraries and archives service.

“We need to put plans in place now to safeguard the future of our libraries and to ensure that the service continues to evolve and develop to meet the needs of residents now and in the future, which is why we’re proposing to maintain the existing funding levels for the new contract.”

The mutual organisation Explore has been running York libraries since 2014, but its five year contract ends next year.

Explore boss Fiona Williams has already said the organisation wants to carry on under the new deal.

The council ran a public consultation about the future of libraries between November and February, and responses to that have helped shape the new specification.

Top priority was keeping key services like borrowing books, providing a reading and studying space, and access to computers.

The new contract will also prioritise new reading cafes in libraries, and says the facilities should be “community hubs” with opening hours that meet local needs.

A report prepared for councillors next week also shows existing libraries need around £2.8 million in repairs and maintenance over the next 20 years.

Some £147,000 will be set aside each year in a “sinking fund”, adding up to £2.2 million over the new 15 year contract. A council spokesman said the fund would be able to borrow money to buy new premises – which need less maintenance – with the sinking fund cash then used for loan repayments.