Charmouth campaigners are appealing for help to solve a mystery surrounding their library building.

The Friends of Charmouth Library hope some new information could bolster their campaign.

Friends chairman Hazel Robinson said: “Myth, rumour and old memories say that the land on which the library is built was donated by someone in the village for community purposes – possibly covenanted specifically for a library.

“This is where the mystery begins as the Land Registry has no record of a covenant and nor has Dorset County Council. “Older residents in the village remember the library’s opening in 1982 and insist that the site was donated, but there the information ends.”

Mrs Robinson said the residents also remembered that its controversial design brought a lot of press attention.

She said: “So we wonder if anyone knows any more about this mystery? Is it just persistent myth and rumour or is it fact? “If the site was donated specifically for community use, this would have a significant impact on what would happen if Dorset County Council closes the library and the parish council and Friends of Charmouth Library find that they cannot fund the takeover of the building as a community library. “Though the building itself belongs to Dorset County Council, should the land use be restricted for the benefit of Charmouth, this would produce a very interesting legal situation.”

The campaigners and Charmouth Parish Council met last week with Dorset Library Service manager Tracy Long to discuss the future running of the library.

They welcomed the improved offer from the county council – to retain computers, some new books, book circulation and three hours a week of professional assistance – but questioned the ‘small print’ of the offer.

Mrs Robinson said: “This small print says that community libraries will not be part of the core system and will not be under the protection of the 1964 Museums and Libraries Act. “This would mean DCC could withdraw all its facilities at any time and there would be no means of legal redress.”

The Friends have also taken legal advice over advice that local councils cannot fund libraries except from amounts collected under Section 137 of the Local Government Act.

“This fund is strictly limit- ed by law and would mean that many councils, including Charmouth’s, simply could not afford to undertake library funding even if they are willing to do so,” said Mrs Robinson.

She added: “We now await legal advice on these issues as the parish council and friends of the library still wish to keep the library open, even if in the last resort it has to be community run.”

A drop-in session with library service staff will be held in Charmouth on June 8 from 3pm to 4.30pm and supporters are urged to opt for proposal two on the questionnaires.