MEMBERS of the public have been praised for their response to proposals to re-shape the county’s library service in the face of Government cuts.

Council officials have now said there is a ‘strong possiblity’ no libraries will be forced to close despite the loss of nearly £70 million.

However, moves are still being made to replace Malton and Norton libraries with one facility.

Detailed proposals for the future of the service are due to be considered by councillors next month with indications that the positive attitudes of local communities and the innovative solutions put forward will mean all of North Yorkshire’s 42 libraries will be able to remain open.

County Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member for the library service, said: “There has been a tremendous response from communities around North Yorkshire. It would be wrong to give any guarantees at this stage, but the proposals and business plans we have received from community groups are all extremely promising, and we will do all we can to assist to turn them into reality.”

Also critical to the success of maintaining the service is the creation of teams of volunteers to help run the libraries.

“Following the feedback from the consultation to ‘share the pain’, all of our libraries will see a reduction in opening hours, some of as much as 30 per cent, unless suitable numbers of volunteers can be found to assist,” said Coun Metcalfe.

Plans will be considered by the care and independence overview and scrutiny committee on November 16, before going to the executive on November 22.

Coun Metcalfe said the county council was working closely with Ryedale District Council to find a suitable site for a library for Malton and Norton.

“Neither of the existing sites are suitable for a modern library,” he said.

“We are talking about a substantial investment in creating a library that will meet the aspirations of the two communities.”

Coun Metcalfe added: “We have been very gratified by the enthusiasm and support shown by communities which do not want to lose their libraries.”