CAMPAIGNERS claim that new figures show that many threatened libraries have issued an increased number of books.

The Association of the Friends of Dorset Libraries (Ad Lib) group claims that in West Dorset, Beaminster did particularly well with a six per cent increase in the number of books it issued last year compared with 2009.

The number of books issued went up from 19,338 in 2009 to 2010 to 20,520 in 2010 to 2011.

Beaminster is one of the 20 small libraries facing a funding cut along with Burton Bradstock, Charmouth and Lyme Regis.

Ad Lib claims that figures just issued by Dorset County Council show that many of the small libraries are among the most cost effective in the county.

Ad Lib chairman Graham Lee said: “The figures just issued show how ill-thought out this plan is.

“We now know that the big town libraries Dorset Library Service wants to preserve are doing less well than many of the smaller ones it wants to wash its hands of.

‘We accept that libraries serve many other purposes than merely lending out books but that is what most people expect of them.

“Last year the county’s bigger libraries lost business, while some of the smaller libraries lent more books than in the year before.”

The comments come as Dorset Library Service (DLS) visits the 20 villages and small towns where it plans to stop funding a library.

Representatives will explain how, from April next year, the communities can run their libraries for themselves.

If councillors approve the plan, DLS will be left with 14 libraries out of the present total of 34, mostly in larger towns.

Books issued went down in Bridport library, which is not under threat, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth and Lyme Regis.

Beaminster county councillor Rebecca Knox, who is on the Beaminster Library Action Group, said she hoped the figures strengthened their case.

She said: “It is a well used and well loved library. It is incredibly important. It serves eight or nine parishes in addition to the town of Beaminster.

“For this rural locality it is imperative that it stays open.”