A GROUP of volunteers is taking on the running of library services in South Craven.

The move is part of a reshaping of the service across North Yorkshire.

Twenty more community-managed libraries – supported by the county council – are planned, with the new set-up due to take effect next year.

South Craven Library Services will be based at the current Cross Hills premises.

Residents will run it, with backing from parish councils.

The Stronger Communities programme has provided £200 to help cover start-up costs and the group is seeking charitable status to unlock more potential funding avenues.

Initial priorities are to maintain the current service – including opening 18 hours a week – and maximise use of the premises, which the group will lease from the county council for a peppercorn rent.

Eventually, it is hoped opening hours may be extended and new activities and services provided.

David Pearson, chairman of the six-strong group, said: "The team works very well together. We all have the same aim in mind and we use the strengths we have.

"The support from both Stronger Communities and the library service could not have been better.

"The staff at the local library have been so supportive, it has really been a joy.

"We have been blessed with a lot of backing from everybody."

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for library and information services, said the authority was keen to ensure the "much-cherished" libraries service was retained.

"South Craven – along with others around the county – has shown the commitment and skills needed to make the project work," he added.

"We cannot secure our library services without communities stepping into the breach, so we are grateful for the enthusiasm of these volunteers and will help them by providing on-going dedicated support.

"The county council already has nine community libraries, which have gone from strength to strength, expanding way beyond book-lending to become key deliverers of services."