TWENTY libraries across Dorset have been earmarked for closure by Dorset County Council.

Libraries including those at Colehill, Corfe Castle, Lytchett Matravers, Stalbridge, West Moors, and Wool could be closed if cabinet bosses approve closure plans.

But the Daily Echo understands that libraries in Corfe Mullen, Sturminster Newton, Upton, Lyme Regis, and Littlemoor could be struck from the closure list at a meeting of the Community Overview Committee on Thursday.

The cash-strapped council is bidding to trim more than £650,000 from last year’s budget of £5,140,000 for its 34 libraries, as finance chiefs wrestle with an ‘unprecedented’ funding gap of nearly £55m over three years.

In a report to go before cabinet bosses on Wednesday, February 2, the council’s library service manager, Tracy Long, warns that the council must re-prioritise.

She said: “The county council must now focus on the library service it can deliver going forward with a budget which is 70 per cent of the budget four years ago.

“It is proposed that funding will cease for up to 20 communities where there is currently a library.”

Ms Long’s report contains better news for libraries in small towns across the Daily Echo’s circulation area.

Libraries in Blandford, Gillingham, Highcliffe, Shaftesbury, Swanage, Verwood, Wareham, and Wimborne have been listed for continued supply of books and DVDs, and for providing activities and events.

County Hall book bosses had planned to trim £334,000 from their annual budget, saving £143,000 from a reduced stock of books, £164,000 from ‘reconfiguration’ and £30,000 from improved supply management.

But now the full extent of government funding cuts is known, library chiefs are warning of the need to save ‘in excess’ of £650,000 for the coming financial year and warning more savings will be needed in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

“The level of these savings is yet to be confirmed,” wrote Ms Long.

The Library List

• Beaminster

• Burton Bradstock

• Charmouth

• Chickerell

• Colehill

• Corfe Castle

• Corfe Mullen

• Crossways

• Littlemoor

• Lyme Regis

• Lytchett Matravers

• Portland Tophill

• Portland Underhill

• Puddletown

• Stalbridge

• Sturminster Newton

• Upton

• West Moors

• Wool

• Wyke Regis.