HUNDREDS of people across North Yorkshire are expected to join in a national day of protests against plans to close many rural libraries.

Under plans by North Yorkshire County Council, 23 of the authority’s 42 libraries could be shut following a cut in Government funding, which will see North Yorkshire Library Service receiving £5.3million rather than £7.5million if it goes ahead.

At Easingwold library, local authors Mike Pannett and Tim Hopgood will join a ‘read in’, where it is hoped members of the local community will turn up and show just how popular the library is.

Local resident Beverley Knights is a member of Friends of Easingwold Library, a campaign group to support the current library and ensure a professional and properly resourced facility is available in the town.

She said: “The cuts to North Yorkshire libraries are among the most far reaching in the country.

“North Yorkshire has a population of 594,000 and under current proposals, would have only 18 libraries. Easingwold is one of the libraries under threat, but it has been one of the top-used 18 in North Yorkshire, and visitors have increased year on year.”

Author Mike Pannett, who wrote Now Then Lad and Not On My Patch, said: “We just want to get the council back around the negotiating table to look at alternatives.

“It’s bonkers. Being realists we accept there have to be cuts, but how much thought has gone into sharing hours, sharing library services, or using volunteers with professional staff?”

Other libraries which could face the axe include Tadcaster, Norton and the Eastfield area of Scarborough, and the council’s Liberal Democrat group has raised fears some could close without communities having enough time to devise ways of taking on their operation. Scarborough councillor Brian Simpson is to table a motion at a full council meeting on February 16 calling for libraries to remain open until a full assessment of whether they can be run by communities is completed.