Essex County Council's Cabinet has today, Thursday 22 November, agreed to undertake a major consultation on the future strategy for the county's libraries.
The consultation launches next week (29 November 2018) and lasts 12 weeks through to 20 February 2019.
It sets out a vision of a modern library service, fit for now and in the future. The future draft proposals aim to build online library services, with fewer, but better libraries and more community-run libraries.
This is the opportunity for Essex residents and communities to have their say and share their ideas, all of which will be considered.
To take part, residents should visit the consultation webpage or call 0345 603 7639. We will also advertise the consultation throughout, including via our social media.
Drop in sessions will also be held at every local library providing an opportunity to ask questions, complete the consultation and find out more.
The first drop in sessions are:
Saturday 1 December
11am-3pm Colchester library
Tuesday 4 December
11 -1pm Loughton library
12-2pm Clacton Library
3.30-5.30 Harwich Library
4-6pm Brentwood Library
Wednesday 5 December
11am -1pm Wickford Library
1-3pm Braintree Library
3-5pm Rayleigh Library
4.45-6.45pm Witham Library
Saturday 8 December
11am – 3pm Chelmsford Library
Details of these and other sessions are all available on the website and will be advertised in libraries.
Traditional library use in Essex has collapsed in the last ten years. There are 31% fewer people using Essex libraries now than there were in 2008 – over 100,000 fewer active users (people who have used their library card in the last year) – and loans of books and other items are down by 52%. At the same time, use of the e-library service, including e-book loans and online reservations, has more than doubled since 2013.
Essex has the second-highest number of libraries in the UK and is in the top-five counties nationally for spending on libraries – but with increasing costs and declining usage, especially at some smaller libraries, the service is no longer viable in its current form.
Demand for e-books, e-magazines and e-audio has risen by 205% over five years, from 61,000 loans to 186,000, with demand expected to continue to grow. 85% of adults now own a smartphone and one in ten use a tablet or similar screen every day.