LAST week Dumfries and Galloway Councillor Ronnie Nicholson claimed that libraries were "at the heart of our communities".

We also learned that his council is proposing to cut the opening times of Wigtown's library from 40.5 hours to 17.5 ("Move to slash library hours in book town sparks war of words", The Herald, January 25). I would be interested to know how he can square these two statements.

That this savage cut is threatened in Scotland's National Book Town is perverse. Our role is to defend literacy and the written word, and this short-sighted scheme is unacceptable.

Signatures to our e-petition have been garnered from writers, international friends and the world-wide Book Town movement, as well as from the local people whom I have seen queuing to sign the paper petition.

I cannot be the only one who gained half their education in a quiet corner of a public library. I watched my daughters feed a voracious reading habit from the four libraries in walking distance from our home in Edinburgh; I now see my grandchildren come home happily clutching their glossy picture books from Wigtown library.

And it's not just books - the intent row of people young and old at the computer screens shows how important this service is, whether looking for a job, filing tax returns or researching some interest. It is also a warm, safe place to wait for the next country bus, to study a planning application, to listen to a story-teller, to keep up with local events.

When our international visitors say "my family name is Agnew, I think they came from these parts", I can send them down to the library confident that the trained, experienced staff will be able to direct their genealogical search.

Limiting the hours of the library makes all this invalid.

I urge the council to think again. And I urge anyone who agrees with the importance of an open, welcoming library to sign the petition available online and all over Wigtown and to let their council know how they feel.

Laura Mustian,

Chairwoman of the Association of Wigtown Booksellers,

Byre Books,

24 South Main Street,