MORE than 1,000 people in Ryedale have signed a petition to save the area’s libraries.

The petition was handed over by campaigners to representatives of North Yorkshire County Council’s library and community services, as the consultation on the future of the service ended at the weekend.

John Dean, from Nawton, who helped co-ordinate the petition, said they were delighted with the response.

“We are over the moon with the number of people who have taken the time to sign it,” he said.

“Hopefully the county council will now take notice of what people are saying.”

Residents had been asked by the county council to give their views on proposals for a major expansion of community involvement in the library service following a significant cut in its budget.

Key points of the new proposals included in the consultation were three categories of library – core, hybrid and community managed, which would be part of the North Yorkshire “family” of libraries and would need volunteer involvement.

Under the proposals, Malton library would be staffed by a combination of professional county library staff and volunteers.

Pickering would become Ryedale’s hybrid library and would depend on volunteers working alongside a paid member of staff, operating with support from the core library.

The libraries in Helmsley, Kirkbymoorside and Norton would become community managed, receiving support from the core libraries.

Councillor Chris Dowie, mayor of Kirkbymoorside, said they had received an encouraging response to supporting the town’s library at a Love Your Library event at the weekend.

“People from all sections of the community were there, from toddlers and school age children with their parents to older members of the community, including a gentleman in his ninetieth year who became a library member for the first time. “The Friends of Kirkbymoorside Library have supported library staff since April 2013 by opening the building for eight hours a week. They are opposed to the County Council’s proposal for a community library in the town and believe there should be a librarian in every library.”

In Norton, a public meeting organised last month by county councillor Elizabeth Shields, showed significant support for keeping the library open as a community hub.

Coun Shields said she planned to organise a committee to formulate plans for the future of Norton library.

“Several people have expressed an interest in getting involved, so we now need to pull things together to present to the county council ,” she said.

“Most people had been fearing the worse but are now hoping for the best.”

The county council said it would like to thank those who responded to the consultation so that county councillors have the fullest picture from which to make final recommendations.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for library services, said: “The response has been far greater than we had hoped for. Communities have shown that they place great value on their library service by becoming involved and sharing ideas about how we can shape the future of our service.”

“Libraries are community assets and with the enormous financial pressures the county council is under, we hope we can work in partnership with our communities, as part of our wider, stronger communities agenda, to maintain an effective and vibrant library service into the future.”

The executive will consider the final report and options and recommendations at the end of June or early July.