Explore provides the public library and archives service for the city of York.

We run 14 libraries including York Explore – our flagship library and home of the City Archive –  5 Reading Cafes, a mobile library, and a home library service.  We employ 90 people.  Our vision is to enable everyone to live fuller, more connected and engaged lives.

Explore York Libraries and Archives Mutual Limited came into being in 2014 as a mutual industrial and provident society with charitable status.  The society was the first of its kind in the UK and its creation was led by its own staff.  We have worked with the Cabinet Office and the Department for Culture Media and Sport to share our learning and expertise in the mutualisation of services and contributed to a toolkit which can be found at gov.uk

Explore staff and members of the community

We are one third owned by staff and two thirds by our community members. Membership is open to everyone over the age of 16.  Members own one share in Explore and have the opportunity to get involved in the development and delivery of the service. We are firmly rooted in York with a board of directors who are all local people and understand the city’s needs. The Chief Executive and board oversee our work, monitor performance and set yearly plans and budgets. We constantly seek input and engagement from our staff, community members, library users and partner organisations to help us develop and provide better, more responsive services.

We are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and recognised as having charitable status by HMRC. We are governed by a set of rules which define what we do.

We have a contract with City of York council. The initial contract period ran from May 2014 to 31 March 2019. After a competitive tendering process in 2018, Explore was the successful bidder and we were awarded a new fifteen year contract to run from April 2019 to March 2034.

Our Values

  • We will be enterprising – innovating and striving for excellence
  • We will be community focussed – working in partnership to deliver high quality services.
  • We will be fair – free and open to all and impartial in all that we do.
  • We will be individually and collectively accountable for the stewardship of our collections and on the delivery of our commitments
  • We will learn – building reflective practice into everything we do to continuously develop and improve.

About our Board

Our board of directors oversees all our work, monitors our performance and helps us to set our yearly plans and budgets. There are seven directors at any one time. Two places on the board are reserved for directors elected by the community members. Directors commit to attend regular meetings and may also chair an advisory group. Each member of the board has a duty and responsibility to protect the interests of Explore and ensure the organisation is well run. Members of the board are not to represent their own interests or that of any other organisation they have a role in.

Here is our latest balance sheet  for information

Explore Management Team

Fiona Williams, Chief Executive Fiona.williams@exploreyork.org.uk Fiona Williams, CEO

Barbara Swinn, Head of Strategy and Engagement barbara.swinn@exploreyork.org.uk Barbara Swinn, Head of Service Development

Sarah Garbacz, Chief Operating Officer sarah.garbacz@exploreyork.org.uk Sarah Garbacz, Chief Operating Officer

Susan Brook, Chief Finance Officer susan.brook@exploreyork.org.uk Susan Brook Chief Finance Officer