Volunteers fight to keep Starbeck library open

Starbeck Library volunteers. Volunteers Jane Stokes, Christine Stewart, Coun Janet Law, Irene Lupton, Peter Smith, Carol Pickard, Maureen Walker, Margaret Manning, Joy Mitchell and Coun Margaret Ann de Courcey Bayley.(1609061AM1)
Starbeck Library volunteers. Volunteers Jane Stokes, Christine Stewart, Coun Janet Law, Irene Lupton, Peter Smith, Carol Pickard, Maureen Walker, Margaret Manning, Joy Mitchell and Coun Margaret Ann de Courcey Bayley.(1609061AM1)
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Starbeck library is in negotations with North Yorkshire County Council to become a volunteer-run, ‘community-managed’ library by the end of April next year - a move which current volunteers feel they have been left with “no choice” but to make in the face of council cuts.

Margaret Manning, 73, one of 25 volunteers currently working at the library, said: “We could either get more volunteers or give up. It is a big task that we have to do. We have to do things that we haven’t done before, like making sure we pay rates and electricity, and ensuring the maintenance of certain aspects of the building, including cleaning and the responsibility for book stocks - among other things.

“People have been very verbally supportive of our takeover, and a lot of people do use the library. We have got a room at the back which is used by different groups. It’s used for a police drop in sometimes, councillor drop ins, mother and toddler groups and the Women’s Institute.

“People say that they want us to keep the library open which is great, but we really want people to come and help. We are keen to find more volunteers to manage the libary and we would welcome interest from any prospective volunteers to come and have a chat with us.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Margaret-Ann de Courcey-Bayley, said: “I have been incredibly impressed by the enthusiasm of the volunteers who have got up and joined the managing committee. As far as I am aware none of them are professional librarians, but they believe in the use of a library service for the benefit of the local community. I am in most admiration for what they are doing.”

Sharon Wall, 46, regularly visits Starbeck library with her 11-year-old daughter Iris. She said: “Having the library here and keeping it open is very important, otherwise we would have to go into town. We use this library all the time, it is a part of the community.”

Friends of Starbeck Library held a stall at this year’s Starbeck Gala to distribute a survey inviting visitors to detail what they use the library for and what they would be interested in seeing in the library in the future. There was also the opportunity to sign up and volunteer at the library.

Asked why she volunteers at the library, Joy Mitchell, 76, said: “it is very friendly and it has a nice atmosphere working here. I did it because I am relatively new to the area, it is a great chance to meet people. I think it is going to be a bit of a challenge taking over. It’s going to take a while to get the volunteers up and running and the fundraising side of it, but I’m really pleased we’re going ahead with it. It is not right to not have a library here.”