DORSET’S threatened Libraries are looking to present a united front as they move forward with negotiations over the future of their facilities.

Nine libraries face the loss of funding next year after a cost-cutting decision taken by Dorset County Council.

Despite strong protests, councillors agreed by one vote to remove libraries at Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Chickerell, Corfe Castle, Colehill, Portland Underhill, Puddletown, Stalbridge and Wool from the authority’s core network.

The libraries will now be reliant on their local communities to take up the council’s offer to run the facilities themselves with the authority’s support.

At a meeting of the Ad Lib (Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries) group, which has been campaigning for the future of the libraries, there were calls for the libraries to stick together to investigate the council’s offer.

Ad Lib spokesman Mike Chaney said that, even if further down the line some libraries may not be able to take up the offer, the group was recommending that they all express an interest at this stage to fully investigate the terms offered by the council.

He said: “There was a meeting of Ad Lib last week at which it was recommended that they would all say to the County Council ‘yes, we would like to go ahead with the possible offer of running the libraries’, even in areas where we know they are not likely to be able to because we want to flush out as much information as we can from the council.

“We have also recommended that, wherever possible, negotiations should be run by Ad Lib on behalf of all nine libraries, rather than all try and deal with the County Council on our own.

“We think we can probably get a better deal that way.”

However, Mr Chaney added: “When it comes to things like money I think each community will have to do its own negotiations because it may depend how much each community has got in its pot.”

The libraries were originally due to lose council funding in April next year, however the authority’s stance has now changed to give communities until September before they will have to take over responsibility.

Any library not wishing to take up the offer will still lose its core funding in April.

Mr Chaney said that in Puddletown’s case the parish council was likely to offer some support but it would be up to the community to raise funds and find volunteers.

He said there would be a meeting on September 15 in the village and on September 17 in Tolpuddle.

Mr Chaney added that Ad Lib was in the process of sending a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt raising concerns over the council’s decision to withdraw funding from the nine libraries.