TUESDAY is decision day for library users in North Yorkshire, as county councillors consider proposals to slash the service’s budget and staff in coming years.

Councillors are set to discuss how to find savings of around £1.6 million from the libraries, with a heavy reliance on volunteers inevitable.

When the ruling Executive group meets, it will discuss the outcome of a consultation launched before Christmas, which originally proposed that 20 libraries in the county would lose all their paid staff - and threatened the future of Norton library entirely.

After a flood of responses from thousands of people, council staff have drawn up a new proposal which spares an extra for £170,000 for the beleaguered service.

Among the changes is a reprieve for Norton library - which would become a “community library” reliant almost entirely on volunteer staff.

But rather than get rid of paid staff at the centres entirely, the proposal will give eight centres including Easingwold and Thirsk 12 to 15 hours of staff support while another 13 including Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside, Norton and Tadcaster will get between five and seven hours of staff support a week.

Under all the proposals Selby and Malton become core libraries in their districts with 60 percent of their current staffing, while Pickering becomes a hybrid site with 40 percent of current staffing.

A written report to the council executive says the new option “offers the most to communities and clearly demonstrates that whilst being committed to communities having an increased role in running services, the council is responsive to the concerns raised during the consultation regarding communities running their local libraries using volunteers and it signals its commitment to supporting sustainable services going forward.”

Tuesday’s meeting is at County Hall in Northallerton at 11am.