VOLUNTEER-run libraries across North Yorkshire are proving to be just the ticket with users.

The county’s libraries service entered a new chapter a year ago when community groups took over the running of 22 sites, joining nine already under volunteer management.

South Craven Community Library at Cross Hills is among those operated by volunteers, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council.

Now the initiative has been showcased nationally, by both the Arts Council and the Local Government Association, as a model of best practice.

And it has been shortlisted for a Public Finance Innovation Award for community engagement.

County Councillor Greg White, executive member for libraries, said: “There were difficult decisions to make in the face of Government cuts and, like all council services, libraries had to find substantial savings.

“However, we recognised the passion that people have for libraries and understood the valuable role the service plays in our communities, so we were determined that no libraries would close.

“Our libraries team, backed by the Stronger Communities programme, worked tirelessly to support people who stepped forward to save their libraries.

“We provided extensive training for volunteers and continue to support community libraries through help from professional staff, new book stock, access to the library management system and broadband. We also subsidise overheads, such as rent and utility costs.

“One year on from taking over the running of many of North Yorkshire’s libraries, volunteer groups across the county are working hard – in partnership with the council – to create venues that will serve their communities well into the future.”

Nearly 2,500 volunteers are now involved in operating the libraries.

Last November, a conference was held which brought together representatives of the volunteer groups for workshops and seminars.

For further information about facilities and services available at South Craven Community Library, visit sccls.org.uk.