AUTHORS, artists, trade unionists and politicians from across the political spectrum took part in a day of action to raise awareness of the importance of the region’s libraries.

The protests at libraries in Darlington and North Yorkshire were part of National Save Our Libraries Day on Saturday.

In Darlington, where £250,000 is being cut from the library budget, residents were invited to come along to the Crown Street library and withdraw a book to show their support.

The protest was organised by Open, a collective of artists based in the town.

Stephen Hughes, the North- East Labour MEP, visited the library to show his support.

“The problem is everything is measured in economic terms and you can’t measure in economic terms the huge importance this library represents for the education of people in Darlington and its social cohesion,” he said.

Darlington Conservative councillor Kate Davies said the Tories would protect the two libraries and mobile library in Darlington if they were elected to power in May.

She said: “Libraries do a fantastic job. It’s not just about the books, there’s the computers, the research materials, the book clubs.

“A review is necessary, but we need to look at how we can do it and look at what other libraries are doing and how we can engage with people.”

Alan Docherty, from Darlington Against Cuts, an alliance of trade unions in the town, said: “This shows that people are willing to have a go against the cuts.”

In North Yorkshire, as many as 23 of the county’s 44 libraries could shut.

The Friends of Easingwold Library, near Thirsk, had a read-in with local authors Mike Pannett, GP Taylor and Tim Hopgood. The trio all read excerpts from their books.

Former North Yorkshire police officer Mike Pannett, who has written several books, including Not On My Patch Lad, is backing the campaign.

He said: “It would be criminal to shut the library and there needs to be an investigation to see what can be done to keep it open.”

Beverley Knights, of the Friends group, said: “This shows the strength of feeling in Easingwold to these plans.

“It would be devastating if the library shut. It’s a focal point for many people in the community and it’s one of the top 18 libraries for usage in North Yorkshire.”

The county council said no decision will be made about which libraries will close until a consultation ends on February 28.