JUST four of 20 communities facing the closure of their library have stepped forward to take on the running of their building, a campaign group has claimed.

The Association of the Friends of Dorset Libraries (Ad Lib) has warned that communities that don’t accept Dorset County Council’s offer to let them take over their libraries, could see them close if alternative proposals are rejected by the council.

Cash-strapped Dorset County Council could close 20 rural libraries – including those at Corfe, Colehill, Lytchett Matravers, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Upton, and Wool – if communities don’t sign up for the council’s “community takeover” package by June 8.

AdLib spokesman, Tim Lee, warned that libraries not taken on by local groups could simply “shut up shop” next spring if AdLib’s proposals to save cash while keeping libraries open were not accepted.

“We hope that more will say they’ll give it a go by the county council’s deadline of early June but we understand how difficult it is going to be for them to raise the money needed to maintain their building and find enough volunteers to do the work.

“But if they don’t sign up and the Ad Lib rescue plan is rejected by councillors, the future is indeed bleak for these communities,” he said.

The community option is one of two on which the council is consulting in a fact-finding exercise due to end on June 13.

A council spokesman said the authority was still negotiating with community groups about takeover proposals and could therefore not confirm who had accepted.

AdLib criticised a recent consultation meeting held by the county council at Dorchester Corn Exchange, saying supporters of libraries not threatened by the closure programme had not attended a second meeting for all of the county’s libraries.

But Tracy Long, Dorset Library Service manager, said: “This meeting provided an opportunity to listen, hear about and share proposals about other ways in which the library service might make the required £800,000 savings.

“This meeting was requested at a previous meeting with representatives from the 20 community libraries, and we were happy to help arrange it.”