COMMUNITY groups are preparing for their first day in charge of local libraries in North Yorkshire, as they officially taken them over on April 1.

Twenty-one more libraries run directly by community volunteers will join the county’s nine existing community libraries on Saturday, while the libraries remaining under North Yorkshire County Council management will be supported by volunteers to maintain their current levels of service.

The library service has seen its budget almost halved from £7.8m in 2010 to £4.3m in 2017/18.

Community groups have prepared for the handover in partnership with the library service and the county council’s Stronger Communities team, which helps communities to become more self-reliant and which has community libraries as one of its priorities.

Most libraries will continue without a break in service and with the same opening hours, but some libraries will close briefly before re-opening and some will have revised opening hours.

Opening hours and other details of community-managed libraries can be found online at;

Julie Blaisdale, assistant director of library and community services, said: “Volunteers have long played an important part of libraries. For example, last year about 1,100 volunteers provided 60,000 hours to the library service. This adds tremendous value to the services libraries can offer.

“We knew we were asking a lot when we took the offer to run their own libraries to communities, but we also knew how loved libraries are and how determined people are that they should not only survive, but thrive.”

A volunteer recruitment drive has so far seen a further 1,200 people come forward. In future, both community-managed and county council libraries will need to continue to attract volunteers to maintain and enhance their services.