A BEST-SELLING author will mark a fresh chapter for Dorchester Library by officially opening it later this month.

Dorset resident Minette Walters, England's bestselling female crime author, will unveil a plaque in front of invited guests and dignitaries as well as library customers and staff.

The ceremony will be on February 20 at 11.30am and everyone is welcome. There are also opportunities for people to join guided tours of the library in the afternoon.

The library, in South Walks, is the first new library in Dorset for more than a decade and since it opened in July, has attracted more than 1,000 new library members.

More than 12,000 people are visiting the library every month, which offers double the floor space of the county town’s former library at Colliton Park.

Cllr Peter Finney, the county council’s Cabinet member for community services, said: “We are very pleased that the new library and learning centre is so popular with Dorchester residents and the surrounding areas. “The investment has given us a fantastic, spacious, welcoming and user-friendly facility and it is proving to be a community hub, somewhere locals and visitors alike make use of, whether it's for books, free use of computers or to learn something new.

“We look forward to welcoming library members and local people to the official opening ceremony.”

Tours of the library will take place on February 20 at 2.15pm, 2.45pm, 3.15pm and 3.45pm.

The library is now offering a regular programme of activities for children under 5, a reading group for 6 -12 year olds and a weekly drop in activity session for young people and there has been an increase of nearly 30 per cent in lending of books and other items to children and young people.

There are public access computers with free wi-fi for those with their own devices, and more space for browsing, reading and quiet study. Toilets and baby changing facilities are also provided, and access to all floors by lifts as well as stairs.

The county council has terminated its lease on the adult learning centre in Prince of Wales Road and the old library will be converted into office space, helping the council to reduce its overall number of buildings.