THE keys to Wool Library have finally been handed over to volunteers who stepped forward to safeguard its future.

Dorset County Council chief executive Debbie Ward made the key presentation to Friends of Wool Library chairman David Smith yesterday.

Wool Library, at the D’Urberville Centre, Colliers Lane, was plunged into crisis in 2011 after county officials ruled to pull its core funding.

It became one of nine county libraries left without financial backing, as the authority tried to claw back £725,000 to help balance its books.

However, after widespread public outrage, Dorset County Council members agreed to allow it – alongside seven others – to become ‘community libraries’ last year.

This paved the way for local users to establish management teams and recruit volunteers to help run the libraries themselves.

Handovers are set to take place at Corfe Castle, Colehill and Puddletown libraries later this year.

At least 35 volunteers, who’ve been training since mid-October, met for their final two-hour training session three days before the grand opening. Volunteer co-ordinator Christine Reber put the team though their paces.

Paying tribute, David Smith said: “Without the amazing amount of time and effort that Christine has put in, we would not have reached the starting gate, let alone get underway so well prepared.”

Before Wool Library opened for business at 3pm, the Dorset County Council sign was unbolted from the wall and replaced with a “Wool Community Library” sign.

Although run on a volunteer basis, Dorset County Council will continue to support the community libraries with a package worth around £5,500 a year that will include books and IT services.