VOLUNTEERS who came to the rescue of North Yorkshire’s libraries have been thanked for their achievements.

The chair of North Yorkshire County Council, Cllr Helen Swiers, met about 40 volunteers from libraries at two tea parties held in their honour at County hall in Northallerton on Monday (January 15) and Wednesday (January 17).

She told the volunteers: “I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the county council for all that you have done to keep the libraries not only open, but thriving.

“As a council, we realise that this has meant that all of you, in various ways, have sacrificed your time and energy, some of you for years, to serve the needs of your local communities through your work in libraries.”

North Yorkshire County Council handed over 21 of its libraries to be run by local communities and volunteers in April last year, after severe budget cuts meant the council found it could no longer afford to run them.

Nearly a year on, all North Yorkshire’s community libraries are going strong and branching out into new areas to ensure they are a focal point for their communities.

Across the county since last April there were more than 1.4 million visits to the library, more than 1.5 million books or other items were borrowed, and customers clocked up more than 130,000 hours on the public computers.

In addition, many and varied queries were answered, stories read, volunteers recruited, funds raised, buildings managed, books delivered to the housebound, events delivered, and books shelved.

They also enabled more than 9,000 children in North Yorkshire to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, with more than 80 per cent of children completing it.

Cllr Swiers told volunteers: “I have not been able to mention everything you have achieved, but you can be sure that it is all greatly appreciated, most especially by everyone in your local communities who, because of your work, can enjoy all the many benefits of their local library.”