Volunteers are desperate to raise £20,000 to keep their library running as the deadline for closure gets closer.

The Friends of Rawdon Community Library have until May 31 to secure the funds – or the library will cease operation.

Leeds City Council has given the Friends until then to raise the money, which will be enough to cover a year’s operating costs.

If the Friends are successful, they then plan to use the year to apply for grants and other donations to keep the library and the building running for a longer period of time.

“There will be considerable start-up expenses in the first year: gas, electricity and water as well as money for new books, improving the building and community activities,” said Richard Taylor, treasurer for the Friends.

“We are confident that the library can be self-financing in the longer term.”

The friends are seeking sponsorship from local businesses and individuals to support the project, which as well as improving the library will make more use of the building as a lively community centre for learning, arts and social activities.

Interested former residents of the area are also invited to make contact.

The Friends also intend to become a registered charity if they are successful.

There will be a public meeting at the library on Saturday, March 24, at 1.15pm to update residents about the latest negotiations with the Council and to give details about library sponsorship.

Thousands of leaflets are being distributed this week to publicise the event.

As part of cost-cutting measures, Rawdon library was earmarked for closure by the council last year, but was been given a reprieve to assess its viability. The council decided to reduce the opening hours, including closure on Thursdays, despite the fact the Friends say it was the most popular day. Now it has opened again on Thursdays, staffed by volunteers.

Residents have been told it is up to them to prove they want the library to stay open, by borrowing books and using the computers.

Anyone wanting further details about making a donation can contact Mr Taylor on 0113 250 2091 or e-mail rmgtaylor@aol.com.