ANOTHER best-selling author has joined the fight to save Darlington’s libraries and their devoted librarians.

Dales author Gervase Phinn joins international best-sellers Anne Fine, Philippa Gregory and Peter James as the latest writer to speak out over cuts to library services in Darlington.

The Yorkshire writer believes the potential closure of Cockerton Library, the loss of the town’s mobile library and the proposed relocation of the Victorian Crown Street library will come at a great cost to the community.

He said: “Darlington’s Crown Street library is a fantastic place.

“Margaret Thatcher said libraries were the treasure chest of the country and should be preserved.

“Since her time, every secretary of state has recognised the massive value of libraries in developing reading skills, particularly with young people.

“From my own experience, brought up in a semi-detached house in Rotherham with six siblings, the library was an absolute godsend.

“There are around six million adults in this country with low levels of literacy, especially in some poorer areas.

“I really do think libraries are vital in society and it’s terribly sad that the government cuts have meant some might have to go.”

Mr Phinn is particularly concerned about the potential loss of dedicated librarians as a consequence of the proposed changes.

He warned against the consequences of manning libraries with volunteers, saying even the most well-intentioned could never replace the expertise of trained librarians.

He said: “Librarians are professional, qualified, experienced people with massive expertise.

“They cannot be replaced by volunteers – volunteers may have good intentions but they are not librarians.

“Librarians are a resource in themselves, they have a huge wealth of knowledge around selecting books, cataloguing them and research methods.”

He added: “If we believe reading is a fundamental tool in learning and the basis of a civilised society, we must preserve and protect libraries and their librarians.

“The richness of libraries in our country is a great thing – in most parts of the world, it is not possible to use a library as we do.

“I really do think we do not value them enough.

“Darlington library is a wonderful place, with wonderful initiatives, in a wonderful building.

“I understand the council has to make drastic cuts but they must find them somewhere else.”