Villagers in Embsay and Eastby turned out in force to help celebrate the official opening of the community library.

It is now being run by an enthusiastic band of volunteers, who are determined that this precious amenity should continue to be provided for people of all ages in the area.

Although unable to attend the opening, award-winning playwright Alan Bennett sent his good wishes and a personally signed book.

The ribbon was cut by local vicar, the Rev Louise Taylor Kenyon, and thanks were given to all those who had fought to keep the library open against the odds.

Young and old and those in between joined together to enjoy the free refreshments and take part in activities which raised just over £300 for the upkeep of the library.

Local schoolchildren were involved in a celebration of books through poetry and colouring activities.

Interest has been shown in starting a knit and natter group and a book group and the library hopes to develop the use of IT skills with the help of volunteers.

“It was a very happy morning and the culmination of a lot of hard work,” said a library spokesman.

“There was a real sense of the community coming together in friendship for a common purpose.

“Further events are planned to promote the library, fundraise and bring people together.

“There is still a long way to go to secure the library financially into the future. Thank you to local businesses who have made donations, especially Specsavers who sponsored the banner and Merritt and Fryers who are going to sponsor the noticeboard. If there is anyone else locally who would like to lend their name to this worthy cause please get in touch with us.

“The most helpful thing that people can do is to use the library on a regular basis and show that it is really needed. There is a car park just across the road from the village hall where the library is housed and the bus stop is nearby.

“We have a very good selection of literature still provided by North Yorkshire County Council, including large print and audio books and anything we haven’t got can be ordered and collected from the library. We also provide a home library service for people with mobility issues where books can be delivered to their homes.

“There is a good reference section including the history of Embsay with Eastby compiled by the WI. Book groups can order a set of books with an extended loan. If you haven’t already registered just pop in and fill in a form and you will be issued with a ticket.

“You will be sure of a warm and friendly welcome. Not just a library but a place for people to meet and interact and share a little humanity.”

The library has extended its hours and is now open on Mondays from 5pm to 7.30pm, Thursdays 3pm to 7pm, Fridays 2pm to 5pm and also Saturday mornings from 10am to 12.30pm when coffee is also available.