Volunteers who help libraries thrive in the Scarborough and Ryedale districts have been thanked and praised for their achievements.
The chair of North Yorkshire County Council, Councillor Helen Swiers, met about 50 volunteers from libraries around the districts at two tea parties at Scarborough library on Monday 8 January, and Friday 12 January. Later in the month, she will hold similar events elsewhere in 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 in this part of the county 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.
In Ryedale and Scarborough since April there have been 452,000 visits to libraries, 410,000 books or other items have been loaned and customers clocked up more than 55,000 hours on the public computers. In addition, many and varied queries have been answered, stories read, volunteers recruited, funds raised, buildings managed, books delivered to the housebound and events planned and run.
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. Libraries in the east of the county achieved some excellent results. Over 3,000 children participated throughout Scarborough and Ryedale. Newby and Scalby library had more children starting the challenge this time than last and Pickering and Filey libraries together with the Hive Community Library at Norton had more children finishing the challenge than in 2016.
“I have been particularly struck by how committed you are to the vision of making libraries about more than just books. One the highlights for me this year was visiting the Fun Palace event at Filey and seeing the community come together to enjoy a range of locally themed activities. I know that a similar event took place at Scarborough and attracted many visitors.
“Scarborough library also hosted a prestigious Google Garage event at which local businesses were able to get expert advice from Google on how to improve their use of the internet. There have also been very successful science workshops for children as well as the regular code clubs at several libraries. Some young volunteers at Whitby library have worked with a local artist to create an impressive mural designed to make the library more welcoming for young people.
“Your work to make the library the hub of your communities has also extended beyond the buildings themselves. I know that some volunteers have been hard at work in the library gardens. I’m thinking, of course, of the award-winning community gardens in the grounds of Derwent Valley Bridge library, but I know there are plans for similar garden projects at More than Books Eastfield and at Filey, so I look forward to seeing those in due course.”