LIBRARY services could be under threat as Dorset County Council seeks to shave up to £40m from its spending within three years.

County Hall finance chiefs wrestling with massive cuts to government grants have included Dorset’s libraries among a range of services earmarked for savings.

Library chiefs have proposed savings of 13 per cent on the county authority’s annual £929,000 spend on the county’s book borrowing service.

Paul Leivers, Dorset County Council’s head of cultural services, said every one of the county’s libraries could be affected by the proposals, contained in the council’s Meeting Future Challenges report.

“The library service co-ordinates stock selection and expenditure across all libraries to ensure that the widest possible range and choice of stock within the resources available can be provided.

“Therefore all libraries in Dorset would be affected by this proposal,” said Mr Leivers.

Library chiefs hope to realise a further £295,000 of savings from a “reconfiguration” of the county’s library service. Mr Leivers said it was too early to say how the service would be reconfigured.

“Council officers are currently assessing the best approach for managing future service delivery within a reduced budget, and this work will continue for a number of months.

“A report on all the options being considered as part of the council’s Meeting Future Challenges review will be taken to cabinet in November.

“However, there will need to be public consultation on any options for the library service, and so it is unlikely we will be able to make any final decisions at that stage,” he said.

Dorset County Council last reviewed its library service in 2007 but backed away from proposed closures of 13 libraries, instead reducing core opening hours at branch libraries.