DAVID Cameron's Big Society is a hot topic at the moment as budget cuts come into place but a library in Little Chalfont had the idea before it came into the spotlight.

Little Chalfont Community Library was opened in 2007 after Buckinghamshire County Council closed eight of its 35 libraries.

Refusing to sit back and let it happen the village rallied together to re-open a state of the art library which provides the same services as the county council and continues to be popular.

It is now being used as a model example of how the Big Society can work by getting the community involved and giving more power to people.

Jim Brooks, chairman of the Friends of Little Chalfont Library, said: “Lots of communities from around the UK have been asking how to set up a community library.

“We want to help them but want to make a key point that although Chalfont Community Library is a very big success it doesn't always fit other models in the UK.”

He said when they were closed down four years ago they were “fortunate enough” to live in an affluent area to raise money to fund it. He said there was also a “pool of people” who had important business skills which could contribute to running the amenity.

Buckinghamshire County Council has to reduce the cost of the library service by a further £688, 000 over the next three years and is currently consulting the public.

It is looking at 26 libraries in the county and proposing a “county and community” model with county services at nine locations and “community partnerships” at 14 smaller libraries. Three other libraries have been supported by £1.5million from the Big Lottery.

Nationally there are 4,490 libraries which cost more than £1billion to run. 375 libraries are under threat. Last year 250,000 less people used them compared to the year before.

At Stony Stratford library in Milton Keynes library users have emptied a town's library of books in protest against plans to close it down by taking out their maximum allowance. A petition has been set up in Gloucestershire against planned library closures.

Mr Brooks, 62, said footfall in their library was up 25 per cent last year but he said it is not easy.

He said: “Everything a business would do you would have to do, except for you don't get paid.

“Setting up a community library- a full servicing library- is a very big task.”

They need £20,000 a year to keep the library going which they get through revenue, a large amount from public donations, grants and fundraising events.

They have 7,000 items, including books and DVDs, and they continue to update stock, getting in the latest best sellers. There are 60 unpaid volunteers,.

He said: “The only reason that Little Chalfont was pushed into action was it was definitely going to be closed. “We pay taxes for our authorities to run services including libraries. I think it was unreasonable that they closed Little Chalfont library. We set up the library because there were no alternatives.”

To help others Little Chalfont have written guidelines on how to set up a community library looking at the different models available and what is actually involved in running one. It also looks at the legal position of councils closing libraries.

For more advice email Chairman, Jim Brooks at jim.brooks@ntlworld.com. The library is open Tuesday to Saturday and is based in Cokes Lane. Lib