CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Dorset’s threatened libraries will have their 15 minutes in the spotlight this week.

Proposals to close 20 of the county’s 34 libraries, including Lyme Regis and Charmouth, will go before Dorset County Council tomorrow.

Adlib, the Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries, will be representing all the at-risk libraries at the meeting in Dorchester.

The group recently presented the council a county-wide petition of more than 13,600 signatures.

The council is required to discuss the petition because it has more than 1,000 signatures, for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Campaigners from the newly-formed Save Our Lyme Regis Library group will also be at the meeting to show support.

Anyone who is able to join the protest is asked to be at County Hall at 9.30am.

The community overview committee will be recommending to councillors that more detailed work needs to be done on the proposals.

If full council approves this approach, a public consultation will take place before final proposals are taken to the community overview committee in June.

Further recommendations will then be made to the full council on July 21.

But campaigners in Lyme say they are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of consultation and conflicting information from the authority.

Anita Williams, leader of the campaign group, said: “We are disappointed by Dorset County Council’s failure to enter into meaningful discussions before making proposals to decimate the library network in Dorset.”

Ms Williams, a solicitor, added: “As more becomes known about the legal position, it is clear to us that Dorset County Council have failed to consult adequately in accordance with the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.”

The Lyme group has set up a new website to keep residents updated.

Friends of Charmouth Library acting chairman Hazel Robinson said they had made suggestions to the council’s policy development panel.

She said: “Among other people, we have suggested there should be some sort of merger of posts and functions with Bournemouth and Poole to reduce central costs, which are disproportionate to the amount actually being spent on the libraries themselves.”

Other suggestions include ‘spreading the pain’ across all of the county’s 34 libraries and sharing trained staff and volunteers.

Marshwood Vale county councillor Col Geoffrey Brierley said among the suggestions was changing the law to allow libraries to charge around 20p for books.

He said: “If the library closes and volunteers created a charitable trust to run the library – which is probably what we are looking at in Charmouth – then we will have to raise money to run the library and how else can we raise it other than charging for books?

Col Brierley said Dorset residents had been writing to West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin ‘in droves’, asking him to push for a change in the law to allow charging.

Write to him at House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or email Contact Anita Williams about the Lyme campaign on 01297 443138 or