COUNCILLORS have pledged to work with their communities in an effort to save as many local libraries from closure as possible in the face of severe funding cuts.

A number of libraries across North Yorkshire are at risk of closure after the county council announced that the service must save more than £2.3m over the next four years.

The council is encouraging groups of local volunteers to come together and provide community solutions to avoid closures.

Consultation is currently underway on proposals to keep 18 so-called ‘core’ libraries open and fully funded, down from the current 42, and exchanging 10 mobile libraries for one super-mobile library.

In Richmondshire, the libraries in Richmond and Catterick have been earmarked as core libraries, while those in Leyburn and Colburn are on the at-risk list.

The district already has three successful community-run libraries, in Hawes, Bainbridge and Hudswell, near Richmond.

Members of the Richmondshire Area Committee said they understood why the cuts had to be made, but argued that libraries are an important part of rural communities and must be saved.

Roger Harrison-Topham, county councillor for Mid-Wensleydale, which includes Leyburn, said: "It is verging on the inconceivable that Leyburn library should close. We are planning a public meeting with members of the community and the town council to look at raising some funds to keep it open.

"Leyburn is a service centre for the whole dale, and if we lose the library, then we may find that other public services in the town will be at risk, which will be terrible for local businesses."

Julie Blaisdale, assistant director for library and community services at the county council, told the area committee she wanted to clear up misconceptions that the 18 core libraries on the consultation list were being given priority.

"We never intended to give the impression that the 18 core libraries were sacrosanct and that is all we would keep funding," she said.

"Those 18 libraries will have to share staff and expertise with any community libraries that come about."

The North Yorkshire libraries consultation period will end on February 28. To have your say visit For more information on community options available to local groups call 01609-533826.