Book-lovers in rural Craven expressed sadness and anger as North Yorkshire’s mobile libraries made their final journeys last week.

The fleet of libraries, which has served the county for years, has been axed as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Earlier this year, North Yorkshire County Council agreed to slash its library service budget by £1.7 million over three years.

As part of the savings, 10 out of 11 vehicles that served more than 800 villages have been taken off the road.

The remaining “supermobile” library, which is equipped with internet-enabled computers as well as books, has been spared.

While this one remaining vehicle will continue to visit the most rural areas of the county, it will not visit as many villages as the current fleet and trips will be less regular.

A council spokesman said: “The cost of the current mobile service is acknowledged as no longer sustainable. Many consultation responses have included offers of library outlets in village halls, shops and pubs. In some instances, villages are investigating restoring their ‘reading rooms’.

“The county council will also retain the supermobile for use in the most rural reaches of the county. Moreover, the home library and information service, which is run by volunteers, will compensate further by continuing to provide for those unable to use the library service by any other means.”

Library user Mary Vineall, from Hebden, said she was “saddened and appalled” by the cutbacks.

She said: “This is a service which provides a lifeline to many people in remote villages up and down the Dales. Many clients are elderly and have no cars. Numerous mothers collect books for children to encourage them into the joys of reading.

“I also understand that most of the singularly dedicated and caring staff will be made redundant – another loss to the communities.”

A report will be discussed by the council’s executive later in the autumn outlining the outcome of discussions with communities on the future of some smaller libraries.