Agenda item

Annual Update on Library Services


Considered –


A presentation from Chrys Mellor - General Manager of NYCC Libraries, providing an overview of their work since April 2020, throughout the Covid pandemic.


Chyrs Mellor confirmed:


·          The new Library Strategy was approved by Council in July 2020 with its new core priorities of Digital; Literacy & Learning; Health & Wellbeing; and Communities;

·          There were a number of challenges e.g. capacity, skills, and IT kit for frontline staff.  There was also much concern initially about loss of income but most community libraries had since received COVID grants.  There had also been some reluctance to do things online, followed by a fear of re-opening and coming back into the physical spaces;

·          Many volunteers were shielding;

·          Originally, returned books were being quarantined but now they were comfortable with just wiping them clean;

·          At the start of lockdown over 3,500 new members registered;

·          A new library app was introduced in June 2020, making it easier to access the digital library;

·          In November 2020 a new Select & Collect service was introduced, with over 3000 members now registered for the service. It’s success had led to a decision to retain the service post COVID;

·          A Young Adults Group was formed providing online sessions for other young adults across the county;

·          Virtual classes were successfully piloted in the Scarborough area and would be rolled out across the county;

·          Funding was received to pilot some telephone/online reading groups to reduce isolation and support well-being;

·          Libraries had worked with Stronger Communities to deliver a telephone Befriending Service;

·          A number of libraries had received a make-over;

·          Libraries became a drop off point for North Yorkshire’s Reboot Project;

·          142,000 new books were processed;

·          Libraries were open only 41% of the year but by the end of June 2021, opening hours were nearly back to normal;

·          Library priorities had been re-jigged to bring them inline nationally with how can support recovery


Chrys Mellor went on give an overview of the lessons learnt -‘Give it a go’; ‘Keep calm’; and ‘Communicate’.


Members noted the challenges ahead, which included improving customer confidence, increasing volunteer capacity and volunteer retention, and funding. In order to encourage more donations, they asked that a press release be issued confirming that NYCC was prepared to wipe clean data on IT equipment donated via the Reboot Project. 


In regard to volunteers, concern was expressed about the over reliance on their use.  Suggestions were made about alternative routes in to volunteering. Members also queried how residents who were not online, were made aware of all the services provided by libraries, and it was confirmed it was a challenge but often through press releases, radios and word of mouth.  It was noted that the volunteers also acted as advocates for the library service.


Members questioned the possibility of residents using a private space within a public library to access and participate in online NYCC meetings e.g. a home to school transport appeal.  It was confirmed that not all libraries had such a space but it was something they could work on.  Finally, it was confirmed that post pandemic, there would be no loss of the services previously provided (as a result of the introduction of new services), although for some a mixed hybrid approach may be required initially.


Members recorded their appreciation for the work of volunteers and library staff, and it was


Resolved -   That the annual Library Services update be noted.

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