A LIBRARY rescued from closure by volunteers, has had more than 25,000 visits in the past year and is marking its first anniversary by extending the opening hours.

Bedale Community Library was one of 22 across North Yorkshire facing closure after funds to pay for staff were withdrawn by the county council as part of major budget cuts.

After volunteers formed a group not only to run the library but to raise funds to help meet the shortfall in cash, the community library opened on April 1 last year in existing premises at Bedale Hall.

Since then they have been open for 1,000 hours, have recruited 40 volunteers to keep the service going and 30,000 books and other items have been borrowed in 25,000 visits.

One of the major tasks has been to get the library on a good financial footing with costs of £17,000 a year, even without having to pay staff. They were given a subsidy of £9,000 by North Yorkshire County Council, the remaining £8,000 was found through applications to town and parish councils, community funds and grants along with donations by friends. Volunteers also got involved in other events including car boot sales in Bedale Hall park.

Now having gone from strength to strength Andy Hallett, chair of the community library trustees, said they were looking to the future.

“We will now be open six days a week. Since the community took over the library in April 2017, more than 3,500 hours have been put in by volunteers,” he said.

Volunteer and library trustee Mike Evitt said: “Library users have asked for a later closing time which will help working parents and give children more time after school to spend at the library. The extended Saturday opening also means families will be able to visit after their children’s Saturday morning football and swimming.”

The library will now be open on Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm with Saturday opening extended to 9.30pm to 12.30pm

Other events include weekly storytime and citizens advice sessions. New IT and digital skills drop-in sessions are being brought in along with Monday Rhymetime which will start on April 9.

The library is also hoping to recruit new volunteers. Anyone with a spare a few hours a month should go to bedalecommunitylibrary.org.uk