Plea to help action group keep Ripon library open

Ripon Library Action Group. Peter Horton, Richard Willis, Bernard Bateman, Mike Chambers, Bob Curry, Stuart Martin, Roy Slater, Mike Brown, Jane Earnshaw, Hazel Willis and Louise Monkman. (1612101AM2).
Ripon Library Action Group. Peter Horton, Richard Willis, Bernard Bateman, Mike Chambers, Bob Curry, Stuart Martin, Roy Slater, Mike Brown, Jane Earnshaw, Hazel Willis and Louise Monkman. (1612101AM2).

An action group has urged city residents to get behind Ripon library and volunteer to save it from closure.

From April 1 next year, Ripon library will become a hybrid library due to cuts in funding, which means that there will be only one member of employed staff, with a team of volunteers working alongside them.

The Ripon Library Action Group held a drop-in session at the library on Saturday, December 10, to encourage people to sign up and volunteer.

Roy Slater, Chair of the Ripon Library Action Group, said: “It is a bit concerning, knowing that we are relying on enough people being in place to keep the library open.

“The number one objective is to keep the library open 40 hours a week if we can, and we would need between 50 and 70 volunteers to manage this.

"We need to find the numbers in the first place, but there is also a need and the added pressure of making sure that when people have to move on because of their circumstances, that we also have enough volunteers to replace them.

“The library is a hub of the community, and if it wasn’t here it would be greatly missed. The library is where we go when we want to know something. If the library was taken away, what would be next?

“People have been surprised and distressed about the change, but I think they also acknowledge that it has got to be done. We just need to get behind it.”

Twelve volunteers came forward on Saturday, and the action group hopes that the numbers will continue to grow.

Mr Slater said: “It is not just about putting the books on the shelves, there is so much more that needs doing in a library to manage it and keep it running, so I do hope that we can make it work and find the volunteers that we need, it’s really important.”

The group currently has no plans for the library to become community-managed, run entirely by volunteers.

Mr Slater said: “It is a possibility in the long term, but it would be a big thing to take on. At the moment our priority is to keep the library open 40 hours a week. It is not in our plan at the moment.

“We do have other ideas about how to get involved as a community in the management of the library from April. We used to have late night openings, and that is something we could explore again.”

Coun Mike Chambers said: “There is a group of very enthusiastic volunteers supporting the library which is great, but it can’t be just volunteers. The library needs proper support from the council. The library is very well-used and valued by the community, and it’s important that we keep it.”

Meri Snowdon signed up to volunteer on Saturday.

She said: “I have used the library in Ripon since I moved to the area in 1974, and I think that it is a very important part of the community. Making it a hybrid library is a real step backwards I think, and making cuts to libraries is something that affects people in a very direct way.

“I hope that we can keep it going and not have to cut the opening hours.”

Email RiponLibraryVolunteers@gmail.com or call 01609 536613 to find out about volunteering.

What do you think of hybrid libraries and community-managed libraries? Email me: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk