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Just three turn out for libraries
THIS is the Year of the Book - and many libraries are under threat of closure.
But despite this, only three members of the public turned out for the meeting to form Friends of the Island Libraries, (FOILS).
These were Christopher Harpley and Wilma Butler from Tophill and 10-year-old Miranda Roe-White from Underhill.
The meeting was redeemed by the presence of Town Mayor Tim Munro and councillors Les Ames, David Hawkins and Richard Denton-White, who all stressed that while they were there as councillors to fight for the retention of the libraries and their opening times, they were also present as members of the public who use the libraries.
The aim of the meeting was to establish FOILS formally, to elect a committee and to discuss how best they could support Tophill and Underhill Libraries by holding fundraising events to promote library projects and provide voluntary support at things like book sales.
It was pointed out by Jean Allen and Carenza Hayhoe, who are the originators of this scheme on Portland, that there are many benefits to be gained by members of FOILS for which the annual subscription would be £5 for an individual and £8 for a couple living at the same address.
These include five free request cards per annual subscription, excluding items borrowed from other libraries, free loan of one video, one CD or one music cassette for one week for every three of these items hired, and a free Friends of Dorset Libraries privilege card and wallet.
The councillors all put forward their views on the future of the libraries and the support they are giving at the various council levels and as private citizens they offered their suggestions on the support that could be given by FOILS.
The proposal by Miranda that FOILS should be formed was agreed upon unanimously and a date will be set for a meeting to arrange the formalities.
In a statement following the meeting, Coun Munro said: "The threatened closure of Underhill library has been temporally averted.
"However, the county library service has proposed that both the Portland libraries be operated on reduced hours.
"Over the past 18 months, Portland Town Council has clearly stated its position to the county library service, that it is essential to retain two libraries on the Island.
"We reluctantly accept the currently proposed alteration in opening hours, but will resist vigorously any further attempts to reduce the library service on Portland.
"The newly-formed FOILS is an opportunity for those who regard the libraries of Portland as an essential community resource to help and influence their future as strong community involvement is essential to ensure their long-term future."