Chelmsford Library will soon host a state-of-the-art hub for family services thanks to an ambitious makeover of the children’s zone.
The project will put the library at the heart of family support services in the city, where library staff, health and social care workers, along with staff and volunteers from other support agencies will come together to create a one-stop shop for free family services.
The revamp has been made possible thanks to a £145,586 grant from Arts Council England, plus a further £171,000 from Chelmsford City Council’s Chelmsford Infrastructure Levy Fund.
The integrated 0-19 Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and library provide a variety of activities and support for families, including the award-winning Rhyme Time sessions, friendship and toddler groups, play and learn sessions, sensory play, breastfeeding support drop-ins, health advice, and other children’s literacy and learning services.
Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded such a significant amount of funding to make this ambitious work possible.
“Projects such as this showcase the huge potential of Essex libraries as venues for all kinds of community-enriching activities, not just places to read books.
“People visited Chelmsford Library more than 450,000 times over the past year, which makes it a fantastic venue to provide other vital services under one roof.
“This is another example of how we are working with residents and service providers to make libraries hubs for their communities, places people can come to for advice, friendship and support, as well as all the other wonderful activities libraries offer.”
Work will begin on the new integrated space on January 2 with the installation set for completion by March ahead of a grand opening.
The current children’s zone on the ground floor will relocate to the first floor of the library over Christmas, while the renovation is underway.
Cllr Barker added: “A public consultation on our plans received a fantastic response from customers of both the library and the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, along with key professionals.
“We will be displaying the plans in the library soon so I would encourage people to come and see them for themselves.
“We hope to maintain a normal service while the children’s zone operates from the first floor.”