AT a time when information and education are the basic requirements of all citizens in this country, the library services that deliver them are being slowly destroyed.

Let us be quite sure where this is coming from. This Tory-led Government’s austerity programme is a deliberate policy to destroy public services, on which so many of us depend. That policy is falling apart in many sectors. Let us hope that budget predictions in North Yorkshire for 2019/20 are a false scenario.

Having spent about 25 years as a chartered librarian, now retired, responsible for the organisation of information and reference services in a large county, not North Yorkshire, I am acutely aware of the nature of the service and the immense range of inquiry work, which can only be delivered by the expertise of chartered librarians.

County library services started in the 1920s with books in wooden boxes delivered to schools and village halls for volunteers to organise. As the service developed, branch libraries were built, mobile libraries introduced, professional staff were employed, services strengthened, expanded in scope to reflect the needs of the wider range of people who could draw most benefit from them.

In 2015, we move backwards. The volunteers who come forward with the best of intentions to help to retain the services for their communities are to be applauded. They are being asked to do a tremendous amount of work – form community management groups, run events, raise money for equipment and staff. What is worrying is that if no volunteers come forward, the hybrid and community libraries close.

In other local authorities, volunteers have dropped out when too many demands are made, and when they realise that they are taking the place of a qualified librarian, who has been made redundant. Pickering is a hybrid library. The proposal is for one paid-for member of staff (the consultation document does not specify a qualified librarian), and the Gazette & Herald reports that 50 volunteers will be needed.

If the paid-for member is on holiday or sick and a replacement cannot be found, that’s tough. The “library” may still be there, but it may be very different.

The county council is making the best of a bad job. Be assured that once the library has gone, it is unlikely that it will return. I hope I am proved wrong.

Lorna Broadbent, West Knapton


• THE proposals for library services amount to devastation of the service. This is asset stripping of a service of value to many and to future generations too.

The proposals will mean loss of expertise by trained librarians and the turning over of libraries to volunteers. I have not met anyone who thinks that volunteers, however willing, can responsibly fill the gap. Those libraries (21 of them) may well close, (one already has – Hunmanby). However, they will close sequentially and one-by-one, so no protest of size can be mounted. Further, the council can blame the small locality concerned.

Meanwhile, the county council has appointed eight community development officers at £4,5000 each to drum up volunteers. How many librarians is this? County councillors have voted for this and acquiesced in cuts in services elsewhere. They are responsible for diminishing public services to extinction. I am sickened by councillors at public meetings appealing, in crocodile tears, for volunteers to help.

It is my view that the county council and councillors are praying for a change of Government in May to let them off the hook, with a more generous financial settlement.

Jill Knight, Hovingham


• CONSERVATIVE-led North Yorkshire County Council is continuing with its policy of running down local services as their masters in London impose further cuts on our communities. Libraries close, buses become fewer, senior citizens are not receiving the care they need and children are being made to endure larger class sizes and the imposition of bus charges. The list goes on.

Is there no alternative? Do we have to accept Tory economic policy aimed solely at the poor and needy, while the rich get tax cuts and tax hand-outs? There is an alternative. Let us know how much is needed to restore these cuts. Let us know how much it would cost us on the rates.

Ask us if those who are well-off would pay to support those who have little or nothing. Do not assume that we are not prepared to help those in need rather than pay more in taxes. We are a compassionate society, prepared to look after the weak and vulnerable. Give us that chance. Publish the figures, call a referendum of voters and let us decide.

Alan Avery, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Labour Party in the Thirsk and Malton constituency