THE Westmorland Gazette reported last week that 18 of the county’s least-used libraries are under threat. The council says that if rural libraries closed, they could be replaced by the Library Links service, which already runs at five outlets in the county. We visited one at Broughton-in-Furness. AVID reader Keith Burr, who is retired and lives in Broughton-in-Furness, reads up to 40 books a year.

He said the village’s “Library Link” service had become more useful to him than a library with fewer opening hours or a mobile library van which visits occasionally.

The Link facility, set up three years ago, involves a small stock of books and computer catalogue housed in a public building.

In Broughton, customers can use the service for eight hours a day during the week, as well as Saturday mornings, at the village’s Victory Hall.

There is no allocated space to read at the hall, which is used for a whole range of community activities, but from the foyer customers can order books via computer from any major library across the county.

A week later they are delivered and a shelved at the Link, ready to be picked up.

Cumbria County Council said ordering was free, although this service currently costs a pound a book at traditional libraries.

In the last three months 388 books were requested by readers at Victory Hall, making this the most popular Library Link, compared to services in Coniston, Holbeck Ghyll, Lazonby and Ormsgill.

Mr Burr said: “I used to use Ulverston Library but when this (Library Link) opened up it was a stone’s throw from where I lived and I realised I still had access to the same collections.”

Before the Library Link was set up, Broughton was served by a mobile library vehicle, which visited residential streets every three weeks.

However, Mari Pearce, who manages the Ormsgill and Broughton Link branches, said they had the advantage of longer opening hours and a permanent position in the town.

“For recommendations we have a computer service which tells customers about similar authors people might like to read.” However, she refused to comment on whether the it was a viable alternative for elderly or disabled people who would once have visited the mobile library.