THE news that Bradford Council's ruling Labour group has proposed shutting 17 libraries across the district, unless they can be taken over by volunteer groups, has prompted Baildon Youth Council to carry out its own study on the impact of closing the town's library.

Members quizzed fellow pupils at Titus Salt School aged mainly between 14 and 17. Of nearly 300 respondents, 60 per cent of youngsters who use the library didn't want it to close.

The youth council's report, to be delivered to City Hall, states: "We found that 44 per cent of the young people who live in Baildon, as well as 14 per cent of the people who don't live in the area, had either visited themselves or know someone who has visited Baildon Library.

"We should do everything we can to ensure that it stays open and becomes a community-run library as opposed to closing down completely. Full closure would be hard-hitting and upsetting for the whole community."

Councillor Debbie Davies (Con, Baildon) praised the BYC. "I'd thought of the library as a social space for older people which prevents loneliness, but hadn't really thought of it as a safe, indoor space for teenagers to meet," she said.

Bradford Council executive member Susan Hinchcliffe is spearheading library reforms and was last night due to speak at a public consultation on Baildon Library's future. She called BYC's report a "really thoughtful piece of work" which she would include as a submission.

Last month Councillor David Green and Councillor Ralph Berry, both Labour councillors for Wibsey, faced a grilling from a 60-strong crowd angry at a threat to close their library. Wibsey is one of several libraries which could close, under the cost-cutting proposals, if volunteers don't come forward to run them.

Cllr Green told the crowd: "We're trying to make sure there is a core library service with other ways of potentially running the libraries elsewhere."

If Baildon and Wibsey libraries become voluntary-run, they will be the latest in a series of libraries across the district to fall into the hands of their local community.

Libraries at Wrose, Denholme, Wilsden, and Addingham have all stayed open, thanks to volunteers stepping forward to run them.

It started in Addingham in September, 2011, when supporters of a community library for the village signed a landmark agreement with Bradford Council.

The villagers became the first group in the Bradford district to sign a service level agreement and run its own library. The council's principal libraries officer visited Addingham's library to oversee the signing of the agreement, paving the way for the community takeover. The move followed Bradford Council pulling staff out of five libraries in the district to save money.

The next stage was a questionnaire asking Addingham locals what they expected from a volunteer-run library, and volunteers were trained to take over the library service. Following the establishment of Addingham Community Library, others followed.

Denholme Community Library, which was taken over by a voluntary team four years ago, has become a popular social hub in the village. Local people saved the facility in November 2011 when the council announced the closure of four libraries. Annette Bell, Denholme Community Library co-ordinator, said, with 14 loyal volunteers, it was "in a strong position to secure the library service for the community."

She added: "When we first took on the service we we didn't realise there was more to the job than issuing books. The library has now become a social hub for those people facing social isolation."

With increasing numbers of libraries in the district facing closure, the future of the district's library service could lie largely in the hands of the people.

It's a move that has worked in Bradford's museums service. There are currently around 100 people giving up their time to help out at the district's art galleries and museums.

Last October the Telegraph & Argus reported that, with budgets dwindling, more volunteers were being urged to get involved with running the district's museums and libraries.

One volunteer is David Thrippleton, 67, who helps to run the steam and gas engines at Bradford Industrial Museum, and also helps to look after its collection of vintage Jowett cars.

Mr Thrippleton, who is retired, has been a volunteer at the museum for three years. "As long as I can walk about, I'll be doing it," he said. "There's always something that needs repairing or tinkering with.

"The most rewarding part is chatting to people and when they ask something."