LIBRARIES in Dorset have been told to stop buying books as county hall chiefs look to balance the budget.

Dorset County Council faces having to find £45million over the next three years, after already achieving savings of £60million in recent years.

Libraries across Dorset have been told not to purchase any new books until March 2016, although orders for Christmas bestsellers have already been placed.

A spokesperson for Dorset County Council said: "Dorset County Council continues to face financial challenges as our central government grant is reducing each year, while service demands on the council are increasing.

"We are now in the position where we need to reduce expenditure to balance the overall budget.

"After some consideration, it has been decided that that the library service will minimise its expenditure on books and other materials for the remainder of the financial year, up until end of March 2016.

"This is part of the county council’s approach to reducing its expenditure to meet the financial pressures and balance the budget.

"The Library Service is being asked to contribute the remaining resources budget to meet this need which works out around 5 per cent, £25,000, of our total resources budget for the financial year 2015/16, £541,000.

"The library service has retained some funding to purchase key and essential titles during this period.

"As the publishing world works several months in advance we have already placed orders for new titles up to December. This means we will get copies of the popular new books in the run up to Christmas.

"It should be noted that this measure is a one off reduction to the resources fund for this financial year.

"There are no known plans to reduce the library book fund in the next financial year, April 2016 –March 2017, at this time."

Ken Basham, chairman of the Friends of Christchurch and Highcliffe Libraries said: "This is not good news and it will not encourage the borrowing of books or the use of libraries if they are not letting staff buy new books.

"All libraries are struggling as the demand for printed books falls, and this will not help."

In 2013, Christchurch Library reopened after a £2million renovation, with Dorset Adult Learning re-located to the extended building as well.