Nine of Dorset’s libraries will close this year unless they are staffed and funded by their communities. Charmouth library is one of the nine.

If we can find the funds and staff, the Council will still provide self-service machines, computers, some new books and refreshment of stock as well as professional library staff support of three hours a week. Residents have to do all the rest – pay for utilities, security, insurance , advertising, repairs, maintenance and so on.

Faced with this situation, library-users have set up a new charity, Friends of Charmouth Library (FoCL), to raise funds and transform the library into a community hub, useful to the village in a far more comprehensive way than it has been in the past. Before we can do this, we have to submit business plans to show that the project is viable and we won’t know until the Council Cabinet meets in March whether our schemes are acceptable.

If they are approved , we should have the lease in September and we can really begin to make a difference.

Already, 61 people have stepped forward as volunteers and plans are in hand to begin some activities in the library even before handover. We’ll start in March with storytelling and rhymetimes for small children. We can do this right away because Library Services will provide the training and it doesn’t cost anything.

We don’t yet have the means to begin anything much more. Even to hold a simple coffee morning, we would need to buy the cups and saucers, though we do have a kettle, thanks to the generosity of Peach Electricals of Bridport.

To begin to raise the funds we need, FoCL will be holding an Auction of Promises on 25 February in The George, Charmouth, and we already have some cracking promises such as a 3-course meal for two in Mark Hix’s famous Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis, four weeks’ holiday accommodation in Turkey, a long weekend in a smart penthouse studio in London’s Barbican and, just as useful, two weeks house-monitoring and cat-feeding in the owner’s absence from Charmouth Property Management, art lessons, dog-walking, plant watering, car valeting and lots more. We’re getting new promises every day so now we hope that as many people as possible will come along on the night to enjoy a free tea or coffee and some delicious party food while they bid.

If we can raise enough money with these events and by other means, we can save our library and make sure that all the young families and seniors - who will find it so difficult to travel to a library in Bridport or Lyme - do not miss out.

Hazel Robinson, Chair, Friends of Charmouth Library 01297 561214

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