Chairman’s events celebrate county’s library volunteers

This story was published 17 January 2018

Volunteers who help libraries thrive have been thanked and praised for their achievements.

Cllr Helen Swiers, front right, meets volunteers at one of the events in Northallerton

The chair of North Yorkshire County Council, Councillor Helen Swiers, met about 40 volunteers from libraries at two tea parties at County Hall, Northallerton, on Monday and Wednesday (15 and 17 January). These are among half a dozen similar events she is hosting around the county.

Cllr Swiers has met many library volunteers during her year in office and wanted to say a special thank you to the people who are on the ground in the county’s libraries and to celebrate their achievements.

She told the volunteers: “I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the County Council for all that you have done to keep the libraries not only open, but thriving. As a council, we realise that this has meant that all of you, in various ways, have sacrificed your time and energy, some of you for years, to serve the needs of your local communities through your work in libraries.”

The county’s library service was reconfigured in April last year in a partnership between the County Council and community groups, as more libraries moved to direct management by communities and all others welcomed more volunteers to help to maintain their level of service. Nearly a year on, all North Yorkshire’s community libraries are going strong and heading in new directions to ensure that they are a focal point for their communities.

Across the county since last April there were more than 1.4 million visits to the library, more than 1.5 million books or other items were borrowed and customers clocked up more than 130,000 hours on the public computers. In addition, many and varied queries were answered, stories read, volunteers recruited, funds raised, buildings managed, books delivered to the housebound, events delivered and books shelved.

Cllr Swiers said: “All this has been a huge task and as a council we recognise that none of this could have been achieved without you.”

Reflecting on highlights of the year, she said: “Many of you will have been involved in helping children to enjoy the Summer Reading Challenge. More than 9,000 children across the county participated in the challenge, with over 80 per cent completing it. This is a magnificent achievement considering the challenge started just two months after our new service came into operation

“Each library did amazingly well and there were some whose performance was exceptional. These libraries, which included Hawes, Mashamshire and Selby, were recognised with the awarding of certificates at the library conference held in November. Mashamshire volunteers, who had arranged visits to schools, even signed up children in the playground, resulting in the highest number of starters and finishers they had ever achieved.”

Cllr Swiers added: “I have been particularly struck by how committed you are to the vision of making libraries about more than just books.”

The Globe at Stokesley has hosted many events and during October alone delivered six activities, including a murder mystery night, a Halloween party and a Find Your Voice community choir session.

Bedale and Thirsk community libraries have excellent records of fundraising and building support for library services. The Co-op has chosen Bedale Community Library as one of three local charities it is supporting this year. Thirsk Community Library has signed up 190 members to its fundraising fifty-fifty club and local businesses have sponsored book bays. Volunteers at both libraries have been involved in promotional activities outside as well as inside their libraries.

CRACCL, the volunteer group running three libraries at Catterick, Colburn and Richmond, has built partnerships with the County Council’s Adult Learning Service at Catterick, North Yorkshire Youth at Colburn and Tourist Information at Richmond to enhance the services they offer. It is following in the footsteps of the long-established Hawes Library and Customer Service Centre, which is nationally celebrated for the multitude of services it provides from a small rural facility.

In larger libraries such as Harrogate, Malton, Northallerton, Ripon and Selby, volunteers are playing an essential role in delivering services alongside staff and are much appreciated by customers. Home Library and Information Service Delivery volunteers continue to deliver a highly valued service to customers unable to visit their library.

Cllr Swiers told volunteers: “I have not been able to mention everything you have achieved, but you can be sure that it is all greatly appreciated, most especially by everyone in your local communities who, because of your work, can enjoy all the many benefits of their local library.”

Read about Cllr Swiers' visit to library volunteers in Scarborough and Ryedale areas.

Read about Cllr Swiers' visit to library volunteers in Harrogate and Craven areas.