TODAY we reveal the bill facing community groups if they want to run their local library branch – up to £200,000 a year.

It probably does not sound a lot if you are a county council that deals with annual budgets running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

But it’s eye-watering if you are a small group of well-intentioned volunteers.

There are two issues here.

Do residents want their libraries to remain? Undoubtedly yes.

Just look at the scale of protest Oxfordshire County Council’s plan to shut 20 libraries has caused.

But do they want them run by volunteers? Not really.

Cost is only one factor, albeit a potentially prohibitive one.

But what is coming out of protest and campaign meetings is that families value the library service.

And that includes the professional, highly trained staff who provide it.

Author Philip Pullman summed up feelings last week, asking if the county council thought anyone could run a library for a “thank you and a cup of tea?”

Oxford Civic Society, a group with experience of taking on major projects, also thinks the idea is unrealistic.

County Hall is fond of launching consultations. On this issue, residents are telling them loud and clear they want a rethink.

Council leader Keith Mitchell has a duty to respond.