More volunteers to be recruited to improve Hartlepool library service

Hartlepool's Central Library on York Road.
Hartlepool's Central Library on York Road.
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New volunteers are set to be recruited to help improve the library services on offer in Hartlepool.

The move comes as libraries nationally increase the number of volunteers they use.

At a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, the success of the Summer Reading Challenge, which uses volunteers to deliver the activity, was used as an example of the impact volunteers have.

The activity saw around 1,300 youngsters from the town taking part, more than similar challenges in Sunderland and Newcastle.

The proposals will see volunteers help with front of house sales at Hartlepool’s Central Library, where ex-library stock and souvenirs are sold.

Volunteers would also be asked to help out with providing a “basic” refreshment service at the York Road facility, based on a hot drinks vending service with limited sale of cold drinks.

They would also help out with the promotion and delivery of annual events, author visits and other library activities.

No full-time staff jobs are set to be lost as part of the increase in volunteer numbers.

As the committe recommended the programme, chairman Councillor Kevin Cranney said: “I think it’s a good idea.

“We have always supported volunteering to help people with increasing skills and employability.”

A consultation held by the council last year found that from more than 1,200 people who replied, 148 said they would interested in volunteering in the library service, with 110 saying they could commit to regular volunteer work.

More than 60% of those who responded added that they would be willing to pay for on-site refreshments at the Central Library, while 47% admitted it would encourage them to use the service more.

The report put before councillors however mentioned risks in recruiting and retaining “suitable” volunteers, as well as managing a volunteering workforce and integrating it alongside existing staff.