PROTESTERS have welcomed concessions over the threatened libraries but warn they don’t solve the problem.

Members of the Adlib campaign group said community libraries would not now be cut off completely from the rest of the county’s libraries as had been proposed.

Initially they would have had little more than books and shelves but now Dorset County Council is proposing to provide books, computers, self-service facilities and trained staffing for three hours a week.

Tim Lee, acting chairman of Ad Lib said they welcomed the changing book supply and between 300 or 500 new books a year – without which readers would be easily lost.

He said: “This is a very welcome improvement on the totally unworkable proposal from the library service but it is goes nowhere near solving the problem facing our village and small-town libraries.

“The new offer virtually takes away the essential help of our professional librarians, who would work in each community library for only three hours a week. It presupposes that such libraries would be able to find the score or so volunteers who would be needed.

“And yet we know that when Dorset floated a similar idea four years ago, during the last round of cuts, only three communities could find such volunteers and if this deal goes through the need for such volunteers will be vastly greater.”

Ad Lib wants the county council to abandon its plans and find other ways of making the savings it needs without closing any libraries.

Rob Hynds, who heads the team of volunteers at Burton Bradstock that took over the library in the last round of cuts, said the new offer would mean that communities would have to pay operating costs of between £7,000 and £12,000 a year.

He said: “Such a huge burden is unfair to Dorset’s rural population.”

Debbie Ward, Dorset County Council director for adult and community services, said: “We have listened carefully to what local communities have had to say, specifically about the kind of help they would need to make this approach work.

“We are proposing to provide extra resources and support.”

The package includes:

• between 300 and 500 new books per year to each library, plus a regular exchange of books;

• public access computers with broadband internet access;

• self-service technology units, book shelving and furniture;

• three hours’ staffing support a week, with the option for communities to fund additional time;

• initial training and support to help establish the new service.

Communities have until June 8 to confirm their interest and the findings will be considered by the Cabinet and full council in July.