IT looks like Hambleton council has had a change of heart over what was looking very much like a tax on its libraries.

It’s more than a year since it first became clear the authority would not be automatically waiving the 20 per cent business rate levy for its libraries when they were taken over by volunteers, unlike other councils in North Yorkshire. And nearly a year since the Darlington & Stockton Times launched its Save Our Libraries campaign in response.

For all those people who stepped forward to help run their local library when North Yorkshire County Council ceased operating them in spring last year, it was an additional burden added to the huge uphill task they faced. Libraries are big, complex operations to be running in people’s spare time and a business rate tax bill of several thousand pounds a year was a kick in the teeth they didn’t need.

So, we wholeheartedly welcome the news for libraries in Stokesley, Easingwold, Bedale, Thirsk and Great Ayton.

It’s also a good time to take stock at just what these libraries have achieved in such a short space of time.

North Yorkshire County Council says since last April, there have been more than 1.4 million visits to libraries in the county, more than 1.5 million books or other items borrowed, and 130,000 hours spent on public computers.

But the libraries have not stopped there. Some have gone to receive awards for their work.

Volunteers with Mashamshire library went into schools to sign up children to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, breaking all records for numbers taking part, The Globe Community Library in Stokesley has hosted everything from community choir sessions to murder mystery nights.

While in Thirsk 190 members signed up to its fundraising club and local businesses have sponsored book bays.

It was never going to be an easy path to success, but it looks like our libraries are back at the heart of their communities where they belong.