Charmouth Library will be closed for good unless the community fund and staff it, residents have been warned.

It is one of nine libraries in Dorset that will have its funding withdrawn by Dorset County Council in a bid to save £800,000.

The axed libraries have been offered up to the communities to run themselves and they have been given until September next year to come up with a scheme.

The Friends of Charmouth Library have been working on proposals since the announcement in July and are continuing to work with Ad Lib (Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries).

The Charmouth group said it is essential that the proposals have the support of the community and questionnaires have been produced to gauge local opinion.

The Friends said: “The library will close unless we fund and staff if ourselves.

“The ad hoc Friends of Charmouth Library Committee hopes to make the building of far more use in the future but needs to be sure that this is what residents want.

“We also need to elect a new Friends Committee, recruit more Friends and volunteers and know that there will be sufficient income to sustain running costs of around £4,500 a year.”

Group chairman Hazel Robinson said Ad Lib is still considering legal action and members are in talks with Dorset Library Service (DLS) to establish what the revised community offer includes.

A list of over 80 questions has been sent to DLS.

Mrs Robinson said: “The nine libraries set to become community run or to close completely are particularly concerned by the fact that they will not be statutory. “This means that if DLS decide to withdraw their support package – currently guaranteed for only three years – community libraries could be under threat again.

“This is particularly worrying since our local councils and supporters could by then have invested time and money only to find that, without book circulation, library management systems and professional help, they could no longer continue to keep their libraries going.”

The Charmouth group has produced a questionnaire for residents, available from the library and the hallway of the parish council offices at The Elms, The Street.

“Depending on the results of the questionnaire, Charmouth Parish Council and Friends will know if there is sufficient enthusiasm to continue to work towards a community library for the future or whether, through lack of support, it will close next year, probably forever,” said Mrs Robinson.

A ‘Help the Library at Hallowe’en’ event has also been arranged at the village hall on Friday, October 28.

Residents will be able to find out about the latest ideas for the library and give their own views, and a children’s party will follow in the afternoon and a buffet supper with entertainment in the evening.

Tickets are available from Fortnam, Smith and Banwell, with free entry from 3pm to 4.30pm for those who only want to see the displays or complete a questionnaire.


DORSET County Council said communities would have greater freedom to better serve their local users.

The authority is proposing to set up three-year agreements with the interested communities, with support from the library service.

Tracy Long, right, Dorset County Council library service manager, said: “We have received a wide range of questions from Ad Lib about how community libraries would work in practice.

“We have now received responses from all nine communities about the proposal for them to take on the running of their local library, and eight have expressed positive interest in progressing these discussions.

“We will now meet up with representatives to talk about the next steps.

“Subject to a decision by the council's cabinet, we are looking to set up an agreement with each community for a three-year period which will include a package of support from the library service.

“This will give communities greater freedom to design their library service around the core needs of local users and to use the building/space for other community uses and benefits.

“This provides the potential for the local community to generate income from the building.”