STUART Miller and his new wife Mel took over the reins of the George and Dragon last July, and said taking on the library was something he was glad to do.

“It is great that the village still has a library, even though it is small, rather than nothing at all,” he says.

But he is adamant that the community library model should not be a replacement for all fully-functioning libraries with trained staff and the range of services they can offer.

“Even though the village library in our pub works well, it doesn’t justify the council closing libraries. “This library replaced the mobile library, which in some ways is better because it is here all the time rather than only when the bus visited – but there are no staff looking after it,” he says.

“Every few months the council tells us we can get some new books from Catterick Garrison Library – but at the moment we have no control over what books we have, although there is quite a good mix of fiction, non-fiction with a range of genres, as well as children’s books.”

Stuart says the children’s section is well used – especially when parents want to occupy their children while waiting for a meal.

The village also has a core group of devoted library users, many are also members of the village book club, which Stuart says is over-subscribed to the point that another group has been set up, with both groups meeting in the pub.

He says: “I like the idea of people being able to come to the pub and read. We will hopefully put on afternoon teas in the summer to encourage more people to come in and sit in a comfy chair with a book.

“We have also considered changing the system of the library so we are less reliant on what the council give us, and run a swap service, where people leave a book in return for a borrowed one, which I think would really improve our stock and keep it fresh.”

Across North Yorkshire, thousands of people have added their names to petitions pleading for their libraries to be saved, including at Stokesley where a campaign group hope to see their library turned into a hybrid – manned by both paid staff and volunteers.

The importance of local libraries is also highlighted by a National Libraries Day, which fell on Saturday, February 7, where people were encouraged to visit their local branch to see what activities and events are on offer all year round.

North Yorkshire County Council’s consultation on libraries has now closed, and draft recommendations will be put to council members in June.

North Yorkshire County Council is looking at turning libraries at Bedale, Stokesley, Thirsk, Colburn and Leyburn into community-run centres.

The plans involve keeping just one town in each of the county’s seven districts, including Northallerton and Richmond, as “core” libraries staffed by professionals and volunteers.

The council is proposing to retain five libraries in the county as “hybrids”, where the authority pays for meets the cost of the premises and one employee paid member of staff.

The measures would are designed to try and save £1.6 million as the council battles to cut £167 million from its overall spending.

Julie Blaisdale, assistant director for library and community services? says they had received about 7,500 online responses to the proposed changes to libraries in North Yorkshire and several petitions.

She adds: “We have at least one month, or slightly longer, to sift through all the responses and look at everything that people have said.

“We will be putting quite a lengthy report together for the county council’s executive, including recommendations.”