AUTHOR Deborah Moggach is throwing her support behind Herefordshire’s rural libraries ahead of a September 17 meeting that could see their closure.

Ms Moggach, whose bestsellers include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, believes that would be a disaster, and joined campaigners to hand a 300-strong petition against the possible loss of Leintwardine Library to Herefordshire Council on Monday.

Leintwardine is among the libraries expected to be worst-hit by the council’s 75 percent cut to library services announced in May.

Proposals for the future of the service could see village libraries cut completely, or their funding reduced to a point where they would rely entirely on volunteers.

“In rural communities, the library is not just bricks, mortar and a wage bill; it’s the heart of the village, and indeed the whole surrounding area,” said Ms Moggach.

“To lose it would be a disaster.”

The petition is calling on the council to recognise the specific role of the library in community life, and to hold a public consultation meeting in Leintwardine.

It follows an online petition protesting the county-wide cuts with nearly 9,400 supporters, but addresses how the cuts would particularly hurt villages like Leintwardine.

“All over the UK, the passionate outcry against library closures shows how absolutely essential they are for the health of our communities,”

added Ms Moggach, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

“In an increasingly fractured and isolated society they are more important than ever – places where we can widen our knowledge and deepen our imaginations.”