RESIDENTS committed to keeping library services in the town are getting themselves organised.

The Friends of North Petherton Library held its first annual general meeting last night (Monday, January 14) to elect its committee members and to reflect on the progress made so far.

Elected members from the town council also attended to show support to the cause.

Mayor of North Petherton, Alan Bradford, said: "A lot of work has taken place in the last 12 months to try and save the library.

"I want to thank everyone for their enthusiasm."

Two representatives from the council's library services were at the meeting, to explain how the town's library can continue.

Sue Shepard, who works for Somerset County in preparation for the library changes, said: "The response has been overwhelming. It shows the libraries are very important.

"It's lovely to see so many people and to hear about the enthusiasm.

"I am pleased North Petherton Library has chosen to retain staff as that adds a level of professionalism." Ms Shepard said how the consultation resulted in the loss of 'only two' libraries across the county, and other councils are 'looking to Somerset' as a good example.

She also explained how hosting events could be a key to the library's future.

"There are lots of ways of bringing the community together while promoting the library.

"Somerset does really well for the summer reading challenge. It gets young people inspired to borrow books.

"In terms of volunteers, there will be two main roles.

"One would be working alongside the library team. Some people like to do things that are more public facing.

"It does mean we would be looking for people with some computer skills, but it sometimes works well to pair people based on their abilities.

"The other roles would be organising activities and events.

"We need to look at the community and see how we can do more. That's how libraries will thrive in the future."

Jack Stafford, another county council representative, explained how training would first be focused on libraries which are choosing to run entirely on volunteers, followed by those choosing a hybrid method.

The town council reiterated its support of the library, by initially providing £26,000 of funding during the first three years.

Chairman of the Friends group, Nigel Taylor, said: "I would like to thank everyone who has put the effort in so far.

"We are trying to extend the library opening hours. "We want to take as many people on board on possible.

"It is a sensitive time for staff with redundancies possible, so we are waiting to take the lead from the library service.

"A lot of people are keen for it to succeed. We will make it happen."