Campaigners are urging Barnet Council not to “ruin the fabric" of local life by closing well-loved libraries.

The council is currently consulting on whether to close libraries, make them smaller or run them solely with volunteers.

Campaign groups have formed across the borough, with people holding public meetings to devise plans to save them. Ariella Lister, who brings her three-year-old grandson to the library, has been canvassing Mill Hill speaking to people about the plans.

She said: “Libraries help children discover books, which is a very precious thing. They help open up their imagination to so many things.

“It’s amazing how many people don’t know about the fact they are under threat, and how many people are opposed this. Libraries are of fundamental value.”

Claire Fox-Baron, who has two children, said: “It’s amazing when you see how quickly children get through books. My daughter can get through two a week. She devours them; I can’t keep up.

“My kids love roaming around the library, it’s a really nice part of their week – they look forward to it.

“You can’t keep on buying books, especially when there’s 20 or 30 in a series – that gets expensive and where would you store them?

“You grow up with libraries – you come here as a child to learn to read, you bring your own children here and then when you get older, you use them for socialising and as a way of keeping busy.”

Campaigners say groups including chess clubs, toddler rhyme time and meet ups for the elderly, which run from the borough's libraries, are often overcrowded.

Claire Zinkin, a mother, children’s book reviewer and blogger, said staffing libraries with volunteers would be impossible.

She said: “Libraries are an amazing resource and the amount of knowledge librarians have is unbelievable.

“I am a part-time volunteer librarian at a school and even I couldn’t do it full time because I’d have no idea where to start.

“It gives children a chance to have a free loan of books and it’s amazing to see how much enjoyment they get out of it.”

One option is closing all but four libraries and the authority say that people would be able to travel to them via public transport in no less than half an hour, but this is something the group disputes.

John Gillett, who is part of the Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum, said: “This is going to completely ruin the fabric of the local area.

“Libraries could be made as small as a tiny room – that’s not enough. You couldn’t sling a cat in it.”

Richard Logue, who is chairman of the Mill Hill Residents Assocation, has also suggested turning libraries into places that could turn a profit.

He said: “It doesn’t have to be the end of the road for libraries. For example, we could open coffee shops inside the library – there are other options to consider.”

Councillor Reuben Thompstone, chairman of the children’s, libraries and safeguarding committee, said: “The consultation continues and I encourage residents to contribute. We have to consult on the worst case scenario and I understand that this may be a source of concern.

“Savings do need to be made and this will result in some changes to the overall service, but I do not anticipate that library closures will form the eventual solution.”

A meeting at Hartley Hall, in Mill Hill, this evening at 7pm. It will be attended by Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.