HUNDREDS of protesters descended on Libraries across Dorset in a bid to save them from closure.

Residents arrived for organised ‘read-ins’ at libraries including Wyke Regis, Crossways, Lyme Regis and singer Billy Bragg performed and made a speech in Charmouth.

Families took out the maximum number of books possible in a bid to prove how popular and valued their libraries are ahead of crunch council budget meetings.

Dorset County Council has earmarked 20 of its 34 libraries for closure in a bid to save £800,000.

But the Friends of Wyke Regis Library and residents met up to call for other ways of saving the money to be found.

Jane Golby visits the library with her five-year-old daughter Connie.

Miss Golby, 43, from High Street, Wyke Regis, said: “To close this would be shortsighted. Education in schools needs to be supported and the library and is fundamental to that.

“Losing libraries and lollipop ladies doesn’t fit in with David Cameron’s Big Society idea.”

The library recorded more than 260 visitors before 1pm on Saturday with members taking out up to 12 books each.

A council report has recommended keeping 14 libraries open including Weymouth and Dorchester.

Those at risk alongside Wyke Regis include Chickerell, Littlemoor, Portland Tophill, Portland Underhill, Puddletown, Crossways, Beaminster, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Lyme Regis and Wool.

At the protest in Wyke Regis a group of children listened to stories and hung messages of support on a ‘memory tree’.

Sarah Robertson, 45, of Thornlow Close, takes her children Ben, 10, and Louise, eight. She said: “It’s about local services for local people. If they get rid of it then we’ve lost it for good.”

Richard Baker and his son Jocelyn, seven, came to Wyke Regis from their Dorchester home. Mr Baker said: “We need to maintain libraries for future generations.”

In Charmouth Mike Chaney, of the Association of the Friends of Dorset Libraries, said he was pleased to hear singer Billy Bragg supporting the libraries including his own at Burton Bradstock. Mr Chaney is hoping he will join demonstrations outside the county council’s full cabinet meeting on February 17.

Liz Callister, chairman of the Friends of Crossways Library, said she was happy that her library was packed with more than 100 visitors.

She called for councillors to consider how far villagers would have to travel to another library in Dorchester or Weymouth if theirs was closed. “The library is one of the hubs of our village. Schoolchildren use the library for homework and they go along in classes so the school is going to lose that resource.”

A petition against the closures has already been submitted with 13,636 signatures on it. * LIBRARY users will be given a chance to find alternatives to fund and save their service.

But supporters claim the terms put forward by the council are unworkable with few likely to take them up, forcing closures.

Cabinet member for community services Hilary Cox told fellow councillors that the offer to communities was ‘not set in stone’ and could be revised following a consultation process over the next three months.

She said: “We will continue to work with communities where funding for libraries will cease in April, 2012.

“The offer we are going out to consultation on is only a proposed offer, it is not set in stone.

“There are ways that we think the offer can be improved but we need to hear from the communities on how to improve it, that is what we are consulting on. It’s not perfect, how could we possibly get it right first time?”

Councillors also agreed to take into account the findings of the policy development panel that is working on the review of the libraries and will be considering feedback from it.