VILLAGERS are being urged to attend a public meeting with ideas on how to keep their library open.

Great Ayton library is one of 22 affected by North Yorkshire County Council’s plans to change the way it delivers the service.

The plans are part of its bid to save 28 per cent from its budget over four years following the Government’s comprehensive spending review.

Out of the £2.3m it needs to save from its library budget of £7.5m, £1.1m must be saved during 2011- 12. It currently operates 42 libraries, ten mobile units, one super-mobile unit and a home library and information service.

It is proposing to change this to 18 libraries, two super-mobile units and the home service, plus a network of community libraries run by local people with county council support.

Great Ayton residents have a chance to air their views to representatives from the county council at a public meeting in the parochial hall, Guisborough Road, at 5.30pm on January 27.

Coun Heather Moorhouse, who represents the village at county level, said the best way to secure the library’s future was to come up with ideas on how it could diversify and offer more services to the community.

Some libraries are used as community meeting rooms and exhibition spaces. Others have cafes, children’s after-school clubs and storytelling groups for infants.

Stokesley library hosts events and police surgeries, sells Fairtrade goods, organises activity sessions for children and offers registration services.

Coun Moorhouse said: “It would be good if we could possibly move this forward to more of a community- led library and use it for something else, but we would have to have the support of the county council, which says it is willing to discuss this with us.

“We would like to make it abundantly clear because there’s been some very strong rumours going around Great Ayton that our library is going to be closed. That is not so.

“North Yorkshire County Council does not wish to close our library, it wishes to see it being used and more community-led. The people of Great Ayton have got to say what else we can use the library for. It’s an integral part of the village.”

Jennifer Roberts, who is spearheading the campaign to keep the library open, said she was delighted about the open meeting.

She said: “Great Ayton library is the hub of our village and everyone, young and old, is hurrying to voice their concerns against closure.

“With library user numbers up and rising, and the number of books borrowed also on the increase, to close the library would be a very short-sighted policy and one that threatens the actual prosperity of the village itself.

“If villagers go to the next village in order to borrow books, they will shop there as well, threatening the livelihood of businesses in Great Ayton.

“We also intend to join in the national day of protest on Saturday, February 5, and to take part in a read-in in the library. We should not allow this Philistine act to take place – we need libraries in the smaller hamlets and not just in the larger urban areas.”