A CAMPAIGN to block proposals to slash the opening hours of the only library in Scotland's national book town has gathered international support.

Jan Klovstad, president of the International Organisation of Booktowns, has sent a message to campaigners in Wigtown who are opposed to the proposals.

The town, in Dumfries and Galloway, has an international reputation as the home of reading in Scotland and each year hosts the Wigtown Book festival.

Yet residents were stunned last week when Dumfries and Galloway Council announced it intends to cut the local library's opening hours from 40.5 to 17.5 each week.

A petition against the plan has so far attracted hundreds of signatures, including those of authors Lesley Riddoch, Philip Ardagh and Polly Pullar, while a small demonstration was held in the library earlier this week.

Mr Klovstad said: "I have had the pleasure to follow Wigtown Booktown and Wigtown Book Festival for several years. I have met the happy reading children in the library when their parents have been to readings, talks or along the bookshelves in the many impressive book shops.

"The library in Wigtown is important, and an inspiration even for us in Norway and all other Booktowns around the world.

"I give full support to Wigtown Booktown and all readers in their important fight to defend the library."

The local authority is due to announce its decision on February 6, and is currently consulting on the proposals.

Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, leader of the council and chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, said: "We've given a clear commitment not to close libraries, unlike other councils, and this is despite the fact that we're being forced to make £27 million of cuts over the next three years on the top of the £30m over the past three.

"It's disappointing that people haven't actually read the detail of the proposals before commenting as it explains this. Hopefully they will read the final budget to be agreed on 6 February and welcome how we plan to use that flexibility in relation to the opening hours and increased services in libraries."