Anger is mounting over the proposed closure of village libraries.

North Yorkshire County Council is currently consulting on plans to reshape the county’s libraries to meet changing demands and reduced budgets.

Last week, the authority revealed it was facing a shortfall in government grants of more than £30 million over the next 15 months.

Under its proposals, it would concentrate its resources on its main libraries, including Skipton, Cross Hills and Settle, and two “super mobile” facilities. Smaller libraries could face closure unless the community took them over.

The plans have sparked fury across Craven.

In Gargrave, residents are particularly angry as they raised more than £32,000 to secure their library’s future only six years ago.

“Closing the library would be dreadful,” said parish council chairman Janet Turner. “It is a hub for the elderly and not-so-elderly, who could be isolated, particularly as the county council is also looking at cutting the number of buses at weekends.”

She said the timing of the announcement was ridiculous as parish councils had to have their budgets finalised by January 17, but the county council was not due to make its decision until February.

“We can’t do anything until we know what is happening. We are in limbo at the moment,” she said.

Coun Turner added that the parish council had limited resources and had already taken over the running of the village toilets, which cost £9,000 a year.

“Quite a proportion of the village use the library, but they are not the majority. There is no way we can say we will spend thousands of pounds without the backing of residents.”

To gauge opinion, a public meeting is being held in the village hall on Wednesday January 5 at 7.30pm.

Members of Embsay-with-Eastby Parish Council were “stunned into silence” when they were told their local library – housed in the village hall – could close.

Chairman Mark Wilson said: “We as a parish council will be urgently considering measures to ensure that the library remains open as it is an important service to our local residents.

“Members have been asked to think about ways in which the library can remain open using local community support. These will be explored at the January meeting of the parish council.”

Bentham Library is another under threat. Resident Irena Pritchard said: “I will have to travel 12 miles – one way – to the nearest library.”

A statement from North Yorkshire County Council said: “The major centres of population across North Yorkshire would all retain their libraries and would continue to benefit from the county council’s significant financial and resource investment.

“The 18 main libraries would be supplemented wherever possible by a network of smaller libraries, run by their local communities with the support of the county council.

“Initiatives like this can be of enormous value to local communities. Not only do they allow the library to be totally responsive to local needs, but they also ensure the continuation of highly-valued community facilities.”

Grassington Library is already run by the community as part of the Hub project.