To judge by my postbag, almost no local topic has caused so much interest recently as the question of the fate of our community libraries.

The Bridport area is rich in these libraries.

As well as the main library in South Street, Bridport, (whose future is not in question), there are much-treasured libraries at Burton Bradstock, Beaminster, Charmouth and Lyme Regis.

In fact, no part of Dorset is more fully served by libraries than the south west of West Dorset.

The feeling in favour of these libraries is very understandably strong.

A few days back, when I attended a meeting in Charmouth, the hall was packed to the rafters.

Letters and emails keep pouring in on the subject.

I think that the reason for this is the sense that the libraries constitute part of the fabric of civilised life, even in an internet age.

Alongside our schools, they are a sign of the literacy of our society, which is in turn one of the foundations of the civilisation of our society.

I am delighted, therefore, to be able to report that my latest conversations with the county council make me very optimistic that we will find a way for the county to save the money it needs while continuing to provide a sufficient infrastructure for the community libraries to prosper.

Indeed, I am beginning to think that we may be able to create silver linings out of these clouds, with imaginative solutions that not only give the community libraries a lasting future but also increase their attractiveness and local patronage.

It never fails to amaze me how much good will and good sense people in West Dorset display when faced with a challenge of this kind.

I think those qualities are once again coming to the fore – and the results will, I think, more than justify the very considerable efforts that are being made all round.