A TOTAL of eight communities are now set to take over the running of their local Libraries.

Dorset County Council agreed to withdraw funding from nine of the county’s libraries last year in a bid to reduce its budget.

Portland’s Underhill Library has since closed its doors and been replaced by a mobile library service.

Meanwhile seven other communities – at Puddletown, Chickerell, Wool, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Colehill and Stalbridge – have been in discussions with the county council about taking on their libraries with support from the library service.

The authority’s cabinet has now been informed that positive talks have recently also taken place between council library bosses and the Corfe Castle community with a view to handing over control of their facility.

Head of cultural services Paul Leivers said that, while there were further discussions required in connection with the lease of the library building, the signs were positive that the Friends of Corfe Castle Library would follow in the footsteps of the seven other communities.

He said: “I’m very optimistic we could achieve a positive outcome.”

The council is aiming to transfer the running of the seven other libraries to the communities in September and has now set a target of handing over Corfe Castle by April next year.

The cabinet also agreed to provide a one-off set grant to each community of £2,000 to help get the libraries up and running.

Spokesman for the Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries (AdLib) Mike Chaney, who is also chairman of the Friends of Puddletown Library, said the offer of the set-up grant had been welcomed by the communities.

He said: “They are one-off grants so we plan not to spend ours in Puddletown on revenue costs but to buy all the stuff that we need to run what is in fact a small business these days.”

Another alteration saw members agree to offer a package of support for the communities taking on the libraries on a rolling four-year basis, rather than the three years that had initially been proposed.

Mr Chaney said the amendment would make it easier for the community groups to apply for grants to support their efforts.