CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the threatened closure of a library in a North Yorkshire town have organised a 'read-in' protest.

Avid readers Irena Pritchard and Angela Robinson came up with the idea of the four-hour session – with local people reading their favourite passages from books – to support Bentham Library.

North Yorkshire County Council has announced it has had to cut its budget for libraries by £2 million.

It wants to keep 18 libraries open but run the smaller ones through volunteers.

However, 24 libraries could close under the plan, while the council also wants to take ten mobile libraries out of service.

Mrs Pritchard, of Mount Pleasant, said Bentham Library, which has 6,000 registered members, would not work as a voluntary organisation and had organised the February 5 protest.

“Bentham already has a lot of community-run projects,” she said. “It’s such a small town there are not enough people to take on another one.”

Campaigners have won support from author and playwright Alan Bennett, who has a home at nearby Clapham. He said he would have been at the protest if not for another engage-ment in London.

He said: “Closing libraries is child abuse.”

Ingleton Library is also threatened by the plan, and parish councillor Paul Weaire said he believed North Yorkshire saw lib-raries as an ‘easy target’.

"Ingleton library is always busy with either children doing their homework or elderly people reading,” he said. “Once it’s gone it will be gone forever. People had to fight hard to get the service so we should fight hard to keep it now."

The nearest library to Ingleton and Bentham will be at Settle.

An action group has been created and will meet at Ingleborough Commun-ity Centre, Ingleton, on February 10, to debate the plan with county council representatives.

“It’s not just about saving money,” said Coun Chris Metcalfe.

“It’s also about providing the best service we can to the largest number of people, about adapting libraries to meet changing demands and about ensuring our tax-payers get the best value for their money.”

People have until the end of February to make their views known on the county council’s proposals.