Dorset libraries seek volunteers

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Campaigners in Dorset are warning that nine of the county's libraries could close unless sufficient numbers of volunteers can be found to run them.

In July, the county council voted to withdraw funding from the libraries to save £800,000 a year by 2012.

While campaigners say there has been "initial enthusiasm", they fear it may not be sustainable.

The council says discussions are under way with community groups about keeping the sites open.

The nine libraries are: Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Chickerell, Colehill, Corfe Castle, Portland Underhill, Puddletown, Salbridge and Wool.

Portland Underhill is one where the council has said there has been "very little community interest" in a takeover.

'Gone forever'

Tracey Long, head of Dorset Library Service, said if communities were not "ready or willing" to take on the responsibility of running the libraries the council may look to close them.

Wenda Purnell, a mother-of-three from Chickerell, said: "We use our library weekly with the children and all of them are doing exceptionally well in their literacy and writing skills at school.

"It's really important to keep this community facility going. If we lose this, it'll be gone forever."

David Smith, treasurer of the Friends of Wool Library, said recruiting sufficient volunteers was going to be the "crunch point".

"We need to make sure that the initial enthusiasm of local people to run the library can continue in order to keep it ticking over," he said.

The Conservative-led authority had originally planned to withdraw funding from 20 of its 34 libraries, but revised the proposals.

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