VOLUNTEERS running Puddletown’s library are looking for support from the local community.

Monday sees the start of a new era for Dorset libraries as Puddletown becomes the first of seven communities to take over the running of their facility.

Other libraries that lost core funding from Dorset County Council at Chickerell, Wool, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Stalbridge and Colehill are set to follow suit over coming days and weeks.

Volunteers at Puddletown are ready to start after a lengthy handover process but know they have a real fight on their hands if they are to keep the library running.

Retired Anglican priest Roy Bennett, who will be on duty at the library with his wife Diana today, said: “Not only have we amateur part-timers got to convince the people who come to borrow books or to seek information that we’re as on the ball as the professionals we are replacing – on top of that job we have the massive task of balancing the books.”

He added: “It’s not just a matter of turning up and helping people to choose their books.

“We are confident we can make a success of the cultural side of the business.

“But today the Friends of Puddletown Library have become the owners of this business – and with ownership comes the job of making sure we can pay the rent and keep the place warm and dry with the lights on.

“Like any business we must insure our volunteers against public liability.

“Finding the money to do all that’s a big job and is going to keep us on our toes.”

The Friends group say their first task will be to make sure villagers in Puddletown are aware of the change of management and support them to make it a successful venture.

The task will be aided by a high profile launch today, which will be attended by former BBC chief foreign correspondent Kate Adie.

The volunteers have also received a message of support from West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin, inset left.

He said: “I pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard to ensure that Dorset’s village libraries have a future.

“I know of the heroic efforts that have been made in Puddletown.

“I join you in spirit as you celebrate this auspicious occasion.”