THE city’s libraries and archives are almost the last free common spaces to be enjoyed by all people in York equally.

The proposal to slash funding by ten per cent this year, with further cuts in future years, threatens their sustainability. The council uses fine words about ‘‘social enterprise’’, but the inevitable effect is to replace professional staff with unpaid volunteers. In time, branch libraries will close.

The information given on how the proposed “Community Benefit Society” would work is virtually non-existent. There is no opportunity to comment on this in the consultation questionnaire.

A six-week consultation is inadequate to engage more than a small minority of York citizens.

It appears that the council majority have decided in advance, behind closed doors, what they intend to do.

I am in favour of co-operatives and it may seem logical that the ‘‘common wealth’’ of the libraries and archives services should be managed co-operatively, but not in the context of this steady erosion of funding for running costs.

The York Museums Trust succeeded where the need was to fund massive capital improvements. Running costs remain an ongoing struggle.

The funding challenge for the libraries, and for the archive service beyond 2013, will be how to finance the day-to-day running of the services.

Martin Bashforth, Alwyne Drive, York.


•THE council is embarking on another ‘‘consultation’’ over the library system.

Last time, similar ruminations resulted in the central library being rebranded an Explore Centre.

They’ve hailed this as a huge success, though this is very much a matter of opinion.

You may have increased footfall, but that was by offering a free creche and a gratis internet cafe.

If you added a massage parlour to the library, it would probably be popular. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

The new review will almost certainly translate as cuts. But I dutifully picked up my form in the feeble hope of making a difference.

Question two: “Do you identify yourself as trans?” Trans? Transylvanian? Transparent? Transferred on a loan from Sheffield Wednesday last season?

A basic knowledge of the first-world-problems du jour suggests they probably mean transgendered.

Fine. Though what has that got to do with lending books!?

At a time when libraries – fundamental building blocks of our civilisation – are being eroded so swiftly, someone at the council is focusing on this nonsense. It’s so simple yet so important.

Acquire books. Store books. Lend books.

They’ve managed it for millennia. Let’s not just sit back and watch it collapse on our watch, huh?

Gavin Baddeley, Holgate, York.