AWARD-WINNING author Minette Walters has joined the fight to save the 20 Libraries in Dorset being threatened with closure.

She joins other Dorset celebrities Billy Bragg and Julian Fellowes who have both been actively outspoken against the cost saving plans by Dorset County Council.

The crime writer, who lives near Dorchester, said in a letter to County Hall that ‘it would be very short-sighted to guillotine rural libraries’.

The writer also highlighted the fact that rural communities pay the same council tax as those in towns, but receive a tenth of the benefits.

She added: “The opportunity to expand minds and self-educate through literature is immeasurable and particularly important for the young and the elderly on limited resources.

“If the Victorians – who invented libraries – believed that rural dwellers deserved the same access to fact and fiction as town dwellers, and have the same ability to understand it, then shame on you for thinking otherwise.”

She called for rural libraries to be given a stay of execution.

This would mean that the libraries could then find volunteers to maintain the fabric of the buildings until the council is once again in a position to fund them again.

Following sending the letter she told the Echo: “I understand that we are in very difficult times and that cuts are necessary.

“However, I would hope that the council would offer to continue to support libraries through the supply of books.

“If people are offering voluntarily to keep libraries open so everybody is able to use them and borrow books, the council must help with supplying books.”

After receiving a copy of the letter, the spokesperson for Ad Lib (The Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries) Mike Chaney said he is grateful for the support and is confident it will help the cause.

He said: “We are enormously grateful for her vigorous and timely support.

“We are confident that such backing will help us to ensure that the county council’s bosses are made fully aware of how much opposition there is throughout Dorset to the prospect of the loss of its wonderful library network.’ He added: “We will be setting out our case when all the councillors meet to decide our libraries’ fate on 17 February.

“We have been invited to set out our ideas as a result of the massive petition we presented to the council last week.

“We hope they’ll listen to us – and to Minette Walters.”

Last Saturday hundreds of protesters descended on libraries across Dorset in a bid to save them from closure.

Residents attended organised ‘read-ins’ at libraries including Wyke Regis, Crossways, Lyme Regis.

Many families across the county have also played a part in taking out the maximum amount of books available in a bid to prove how valuable and popular the service is.