WORRIED residents have set up an action group to secure the future of the library where author Roald Dahl set one of his most famous novels.

Great Missenden Library is one of 14 in the county which could be run by volunteers as councillors look to hand over control to the community in a bid to save almost £700,000.

The library, in High Street, was the inspiration for Roald Dahl's novel 'Matilda', where the book's heroine 'reads every single book in the library'.

The world-famous author of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' lived in the village until his death in 1990 and drew inspiration for many of his books from the Bucks countryside.

Staff at the village's Roald Dahl Museum said he was a “great supporter” of the library service.

Villagers fear the library could close if no volunteers are found to run it and have set up the Friends of Great Missenden Library action group to save it from shutting.

As many as 40 people have enquired about joining the group in the ten days since it was set up, said Prestwood and Heath End's Chiltern District Council representative Andrew Garnett.

Cllr Garnett, who helped set up the group, said members would be at the library on Saturday morning to get residents' opinions on the plans.

He said: “The purpose of the group is simply to try to influence the outcome of the threat that now exists to the future of Great Missenden Library.

“People clearly value the service it provides. It's a meeting place for everyone, from young mums to elderly people. We need to keep it.

“We've had 30 or 40 people who have been in contact and all of them are very keen to keep it preserved.

“It would seem strange to have this particular library downgraded given the village is a burgeoning centre of arts and writing.”

Cllr Garnett added the group would be looking to recruit more members on Saturday.

Seb Berry, co-Chairman of Great Missenden Village Association, said: “The suggestion that the library faces closure unless it is run by volunteers will alarm very many of our members and the wider community.

“We are at the very start of a three month consultation however and it is therefore premature to be calling for volunteers before we know the outcome of that process.

“In the meantime, it's now essential that the County Council and local councillors work together with local people to find the best solution. We need to ensure that Great Missenden library continues to provide a vital community service.”

Buckinghamshire County Council believes the scheme can replicate the success of three existing community-run centres in West Wycombe, Chalfont St Giles and Little Chalfont, and say changes must be made to address an unprecedented reduction in Government funds.

Cllr Patricia Birchley, Cabinet Member for Adults and Family Wellbeing, said: “We have got three really good examples at the moment of community libraries where the community have made a magnificent job of involving everyone in the running of their libraries and we hope that can be replicated across the county.”

She added: “The more community involvement, the better for everybody.”