Your library, your place 2020-2030

Libraries strategy 2020-2030


What an exciting time for libraries in North Yorkshire! The last few years have seen many remarkable moments, not least the amazing partnership with volunteers and communities that has seen the service recognised nationally as high performing and innovative. I know there will be many more such moments to come that will benefit our customers and communities across North Yorkshire.

We are a family of libraries that nurtures opportunities through access to ideas, imagination and connections.

This family includes all volunteers and partners engaged with delivering services - charities, partner organisations, parish and town councils. We recognise the huge contribution in time, energy, commitment and fund raising efforts of community library groups which together with the staffing, infrastructure and financial support from North Yorkshire County Council is critical in keeping all our libraries open.

Our services are delivered in partnership with our volunteers within our communities; only together can we continue to deliver a comprehensive county-wide service. This strategy sets out the direction as to how the Council will develop libraries in partnership with them. It celebrates the dedicated teams at all of our service points and recognises the need for the continued support including funding, infrastructure and professional expertise.

There are five essential requirements for a successful library service in North Yorkshire: bright, attractive spaces; support from trained and dedicated professional staff and volunteers; quality book stock; accessible IT; and a programme of activities and events for existing and new customers. North Yorkshire’s libraries are more than a collection of books, they are a vibrant and accessible community asset that contain the resources and tools to support individuals and communities to thrive and prosper. The range of events and activities held in our libraries clearly demonstrate this along with the many successful funding bids to enable projects to be developed.

There has been national recognition of the achievement in retaining our library service and maintaining standards, with several national newspapers featuring positive articles, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance states we are “a high performing low cost service” and the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport has declared our service a ‘trend-buster’ - one of 10 high performing authorities in England and Wales.

Cllr Greg White Executive member for Libraries

Let’s celebrate!

Our family of libraries includes six core libraries, five hybrid, 31 community libraries and a super mobile library serving 20 communities.

In 2018/19 there were:

  • 2,118,855 visits to libraries;
  • 2,145,589 book loans;
  • 123,776 e-book loans;
  • 4,000+ events;
  • 9,650 children doing the summer reading challenge;
  • 40,875 doors knocked on by the home library service;
  • 20,502 individuals supported to use ICT.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of our 2,007 volunteers who contributed 158,122 hours of their time.

Over 2 million visitors a year can’t be wrong!

  • The Globe@Stokesley - international ‘Meet and Code’ award.
  • Newby and Scalby library - ITV Calendar news #peoples lottery award.
  • BIC Technology Excellence in Libraries Award (TEiLA) Accreditation.
  • Great Ayton Discovery Centre North Yorkshire County Council Community Project of the year 2018.
  • Grassington HUB and Derwent Valley Bridge winners of Duke of York Community Awards.
  • Derwent Valley Bridge awarded Muck and Magic Gold awards for their community garden.
  • Skipton, Selby, Richmond and Filey libraries have all been refurbished in the last two years. We have also seen investment in new public IT across all libraries.
  • Harrogate library - Bookseller Library of the Year 2019.
  • Settle, Pickering, and Derwent Valley Bridge libraries have successfully bid for funding to use community transport schemes to enable housebound residents to visit the library. Boroughbridge library is using community transport to bring children from rural schools to visit their nearest library and learn about the facilities available.
  • North Yorkshire libraries at Catterick, Selby, Whitby and Skipton have partnered with Yorkshire based arts organisations to deliver exhibitions, workshops and digital projects with over £90,000 grant funding.
  • Community libraries and volunteers have been recognised in community awards – including Bedale, Easingwold, Boroughbridge, and Skipton (young volunteer).
  • Filey, Bilton and Woodfield, Nidderdale Plus, Newby and Scalby, Bedale, Stokesley, Easingwold, Starbeck, Sherburn and Eastfield have received funding from a range of sources to support community projects including health and well-being, digital skills, isolation and community cohesion.

National and local strategic directions

The library service is a statutory service delivered under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. We consider it important that all our libraries are part of this statutory provision as recognised currently by Government. This can only be maintained with the continued guidance, advice and support of North Yorkshire County Council library staff together with access to a county-wide stock collection. Networked resources managed via a single system to ensure a consistent offer and delivery of the core library service county-wide is also vital.

Nationally public libraries are expected to deliver on seven ambitions as per the Governments Libraries Task Force, using four key themes as Universal Library Offers (see below). These provide a framework for service planning and in 2016 informed the service agreement with community groups with a straightforward outline of expectations.

Universal offers, revised 2019

What societal Needs Libraries meet:

What libraries offer:

What libraries deliver:



Improved digital access and literacy

Healthier and happier lives

Supporting learning literacy, economic opportunity and inspiration

Information and digital

Helping everyone achieve their full potential

Cultural and creative enrichment


Culture and creativity

Stronger and more resilient communities

Increased reading and literacy


Health and wellbeing


Greater prosperity

Key expectations of libraries - as outlined in our service agreement

  • Provide books in a variety of formats, including e-books.
  • Promote reading for pleasure, study and learning.
  • Arrange activities and events e.g. author visits, reading groups, story times, groups and creative opportunities.
  • Provide internet access and free Wi-Fi.
  • Assist customers to use public services and supporting them to use services online.
  • Signpost customers to other services.
  • Help customers to use the digital library e.g. e-books, e-magazines, online resources etc.
  • Assist customers to find reliable information whether from books, the internet, or other organisations.
  • Provide information on local groups, societies, events and learning opportunities.
  • Provide a local, safe and neutral space for the community.
  • Help to reduce isolation by providing the home library service.


“A family of libraries that nurtures opportunities through access to ideas, imagination and connections.”

This strategy focusses on four core aims for North Yorkshire reflecting local priorities as shown below, set against the proven outcomes research shows that libraries deliver: raising aspirations, stimulating enjoyment of culture and helping people live independent lives.

Our libraries will be at the heart of their community, owned and shaped by them, able to respond to changing demands and needs; a place to exchange, share, learn and create ideas. The first choice for people wanting to find out, learn, enjoy and read - with skilled teams to support their ambition.

Literacy & learning

Health & wellbeing



Support and

develop literacy

skills, reading,

creativity and

innovation to

help people and

businesses in

North Yorkshire

realise their


Support the


of health and

wellbeing in

North Yorkshire.


people with

the resources,


skills and support

to be digitally


To become a

focal point for


to identify

and support

opportunities to

work together.

Literacy and learning

Why? Customers rely on their library as a source of high-quality books, information and resources to be informed, educated and entertained.

Strategic direction

  • Build the collection of books, e-Books and other materials to meet community needs.
  • Enhance our skills and abilities to offer a better service to our customers.
  • Offer opportunities for all ages and needs that spark curiosity, nurture learning and develop creative and critical thinking.
  • Develop constructive activities for school-aged children including homework support.
  • Provide space for study, work and creativity.
  • Promote enjoyment of reading for all.

Case study

Encounters (2018) - Whitby Library worked with partners Invisible Dust, the County Record Office and volunteers from the library on a series of projects to explore the legacy of Captain Cook. Events included two specially commissioned art works by internationally recognised artists, workshops and artist and author talks. Volunteers researched Whitby during the time of Cook, curating an exhibition with material from the County Record Office and the library. Young people worked with the project artists to explore material from the National Maritime Museum, Kew, British Library and Royal Society and documented their own creative journey. The library was a focal point during the Cook 250 festival providing access to ideas and creative activities. A visitor commented that the event would “make me think more about different perspectives on history” and one young person has been inspired to set up an art/environment ‘collective’ at the library.

Aim: To support and develop literacy skills, reading, creativity and innovation to help children, adults and businesses in North Yorkshire realise their potential.

Our ambitions

  • To foster a love of reading and encourage the development of creative and critical thinking.
  • To support children’s futures and school readiness.
  • For libraries to be centres for lifelong and self-directed learning.
  • For the quality of materials held to be effectively maintained and relevant to each community, with a wide range and depth across the whole collection.
  • To provide opportunities for individuals to increase employability skills.
  • To take advantage of funding opportunities to deliver a wide range of cultural activities across the county.


  • Summer reading challenge
  • Bookstart/story times and Rhymetimes
  • Cultural events e.g. author events
  • Book groups
  • Creative workshops e.g. Scribblezone
  • Formal and informal learning
  • Business support / advice sessions
  • Family history
  • Book bingo
  • Work experience
  • Supported employment


  • Utilise national initiatives such as the summer reading challenge and Bookstart.
  • Signpost and refer customers to access council services.
  • Deliver a programme of events such as storytimes, author visits, book groups, and creative workshops.
  • Offer formal and informal learning sessions.
  • Provide and support access to e-books, e-audio and online reference resources.
  • Host advice and information sessions.

Health and wellbeing   

Why? The library is an accessible and trusted place where people can find information and connections in a friendly and welcoming environment – a gateway to other services.

Strategic direction

  • Promote health literacy through access to information and by connecting people to other services.
  • Develop a relevant collection of resources including self-help reading and other wellbeing materials.
  • Provide space and activities for people to come together, socialise, learn and explore creative and cultural ideas.
  • Provide opportunities for volunteering for people of all ages.
  • Develop new partnerships and resources to support community needs.
  • Promote the health benefits of reading.

Case study

After attending an event at Ripon Library, with Laura Steven, author of ‘Exact Opposite of Ok’, girls from a local school were invited back to the library to take part in an activity looking at body image as part of Mental Health Awareness week. Following engaging and energised discussions covering body image, internet safety and how relationships are portrayed in the media, the group used library resources to produce digital art work exploring identity, self-esteem and what they liked about themselves and each other. The young people left with a renewed sense of confidence in their ‘uniqueness’.

Aim: To support the improvement of health and wellbeing in North Yorkshire.

Our ambitions

  • To provide opportunities for people to socialise, create and learn together.
  • To promote connectedness for people with space to engage and find information about services.
  • For people to feel empowered and able to support themselves to live independently.
  • To provide creative and social reading opportunities.
  • To provide material and resources relevant to communities.
  • To extend and develop the home library service.


  • Knit and natter groups
  • NHS clinics
  • Home library service
  • “Dial-a-Ride” community transport bringing housebound users to the library
  • Healthy living roadshows
  • Advice drop-ins e.g. police, Age UK
  • Coffee and conversation
  • Happiness cafés
  • Community gardens
  • Deaf cafés
  • Wellbeing bags
  • Public health campaigns
  • More than movies
  • Community choirs


  • Utilise local and national initiatives such as change4life and Living Well.
  • Deliver a programme of activities such as Sporting Memories.
  • Deliver groups such as knit and natter and happiness cafés.
  • Provide a home library service.
  • Healthy living roadshows/dropins such as health, Police etc.
  • Aware of and responsive to conditions such as dementia and autism.


Why? Libraries help bridge the digital divide by providing services and information through technology.

Strategic direction

  • Provide activities that support people to become more digitally confident.
  • Support communities and vulnerable groups who find accessing council services difficult.
  • Develop and promote access to virtual library services.
  • Ensure that computer and e-resources are updated and re-evaluated to meet current demands.
  • Offer opportunities for using technology in innovative and creative ways.
  • Increase connectedness of individuals and communities

Case study

Harrogate library runs code clubs for primary and secondary school pupils and a third for adults. Using the library’s digital kit everyone has the opportunity to develop their existing skills and learn new ones. Delivered by volunteers, learners get the opportunity to use a variety of programs and kit. The groups meet for a number of weeks allowing for new friendships to form; some move on to support new learners to cement and share their knowledge. One adult participant said they were “grateful for the chance to learn about something that I had little knowledge of before taking the course” and a parent of a primary aged child commented “It’s lovely to see them helping each other and bouncing ideas around. I know other parents agree it is great to have a safe space for them to explore their love of tech”.

Aim: To provide people with the resources, infrastructure, skills and support to be digitally connected.

Our ambitions

  • To be a leading e-library embracing digital technology with 95% transactions self-serve.
  • To provide a quality internet presence through library websites and social media outlets.
  • To foster digitally skilled people and communities.
  • To support science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) learning to raise aspirations and broaden career prospects.
  • To be at the forefront of advances in reading technology and electronic resources.
  • Virtual reality
  • Code-a-pillar
  • Digital makeries
  • Animation workshops
  • Online learning
  • STEAM activities (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths)
  • Coding for all ages


  • Provide access to digitally creative resources and activities such as code clubs and virtual reality.
  • Support to use digital resources.
  • Access to on-line learning.
  • Deliver Science, Technology, Engineering (STEAM), Arts and Maths activities such as fun palaces and digital makeries.


Why? Libraries are safe, trusted and comfortable community spaces able to inspire, broaden horizons and celebrate diversity.

Strategic direction

  • Develop library collections, services and activities to reflect the needs and aspirations of our communities.
  • Work in partnership with local people and organisations to encourage engagement with communities.
  • Provide opportunities for volunteering and participation by all.
  • Create a welcoming environment for everyone.
  • Continuously update the local and family history collections in our main centres of population.
  • Develop remote access to local history material through digitisation.

Case study

Grassington Hub and community library in the heart of The Dales was set up to provide a wide range of support services to residents, businesses and visitors. The community library was awarded the title of Library of the Year 2019 for its outstanding performance over the last 12 months, in particular increasing visitor numbers. This was reflected in increased use of wider library services.

Carol Headley, a trustee of the hub, said: “A lot of our success is due to our committed volunteers and we are very proud of what they put into the organisation. Part of the reason we have grown is that we are doing far more than just offering traditional library services and that has brought a lot more people into the hub over the last couple of years. Once people realise what we have to offer they keep coming back.”

Aim: To become a focal point for communities to identify and support opportunities to work together.

Our ambitions

  • That libraries are the destination of choice for access to information, reading opportunities and creative cultural activities.
  • For libraries to be the key place for other services to connect with communities and individuals to connect with other services.
  • To build on cultural connections, helping to combat loneliness and isolation.
  • For libraries to have a positive impact on an individual’s sense of place; connecting language, cultures and generations.
  • To celebrate North Yorkshire past and present.


  • Community events
  • Volunteering
  • Access to council services
  • Local information
  • Local history collections in main centres
  • Local history groups
  • Community reads
  • Creative learning


  • Provide opportunities for volunteering , participation and community engagement
  • Ensure buildings are fit for purpose and used to their fullest extent
  • Develop main local study collections to be accessible county wide
  • Provide a venue for council communications, consultations and campaigns
  • Provide a range of activities to bring individuals together

Action plan 2020 – 21

Literacy and learning


Support and develop literacy skills, reading, creativity and innovation to help people and businesses in North Yorkshire realise their potential.


  • Increase active library membership by children
    • Deliver summer reading challenge
    • Introduce new book club for under 5s
    • Introduce ‘15 things to do in a library before you are 5’
  • Achieve Arts Council England funding to develop capacity for creative opportunities within communities
  • Review stock policy to ensure collections are relevant
  • Increase learning opportunities in partnership working with Adult Learning and Skills Service and other partners within libraries.

Health and wellbeing


Support the improvement of health and wellbeing in North Yorkshire.


  • Increase use of ‘Reading Well’ collections
    • Prioritise mental health, working with partners to promote endorsed self-help reading
    • Promote new children’s collection
  • Increase awareness of services and support available
    • Continue to build awareness of reliable health information sources
    • Provide space for information, guidance and events
  • Work with NYCC Living Well team and other partners to promote the home library service
  • Provide ongoing volunteering opportunities.



Provide people with the resources, infrastructure, skills and support to be digitally connected.


  • Review digital library offer to ensure relevance and value for money
  • Recruit and train digital volunteers
    • develop new role description
  • Target promotion to schools, colleges, businesses
  • Extend IT Buddy scheme to home library service users
  • Extend use of virtual reality and other digital resources
  • Deliver science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) activities including increasing computing and coding clubs and similar.



To become a focal point for communities to identify and support opportunities to work together.


  • Together with Stronger Communities team support the development of community libraries to extend services to meet local needs
  • Provide ongoing training and support for all to ensure consistency of delivery and development, prioritising
    • Enquiry/reference work
    • Local studies
  • Develop a programme of events to commemorate VE Day
  • Refurbishment of Malton and Scarborough Libraries
  • Investigate a suitable platform for digitisation of local studies material to ensure a consistent approach.

Download Your library, your place 2020-2030

You can download  Your library, your place 2020-2030 here. (pdf / 4 MB)

View the Your library, your place 2020-2030 easy read.