A TOWN is preparing to fight plans that could see its library run entirely by volunteers.

Stokesley is one of nearly two dozen libraries in North Yorkshire that the county council is proposing to hand over to the community to run, with support from council staff.

But residents have organised a meeting to take place in the town next week, over concerns that managing such a busy resource with just volunteers is not sustainable.

Eileen Driver, from Stokesley, said although they had not yet formalised their campaign, it was likely they would campaign for an option where the library remains under county council control, with one local authority librarian and volunteers from the town.

“It’s such a central resource for the town, that people are distraught,” she said.

“Generally there’s a feeling it ought to stay within the provision of the county. We would like it left as it is but we appreciate the problem the council is facing with finances.

“There certainly is the feeling on the ground to have it as a hybrid-type library like Ripon; where we support it with more volunteers but it’s not totally dependent on them, because that leaves it vulnerable.”

Under proposals recently unveiled by North Yorkshire County Council, 20 smaller libraries, including Bedale, Stokesley, Thirsk, Colburn and Leyburn, would be community-run and only offered professional support from the authority by February 2017.

Five large libraries, including Ripon - the fourth busiest library in the county - Pickering and Knaresborough, would operate on a hybrid model; retaining just a single member of staff and helped by teams of volunteers.

The plan states one town in each of the county's seven districts, including Northallerton and Richmond, would keep a library staffed by professionals and volunteers. It is estimated the move will save the county council £1.6m.

The “community managed” model is already in place in Great Ayton, which is funded and run by the community after a lengthy campaign to save the facility. The Discovery Centre receives funding from Great Ayton Parish Council and North Yorkshire County Council, but still needs to raise thousands every year to stay open.

The meeting to consider how best to oppose the plans is due to take place in Stokesley Town Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday, November 27. A petition is also available in Brown’s Newsagents on Stokesley High Street.

North Yorkshire County Council has organised a drop-in consultation over the proposals at Stokesley Library on Tuesday, November 25 from 2pm until 6pm. For more information visit northyorks.gov.uk/libraryconsultation