Alarm over revised library opening hours

News / Mon 21st Dec 2020 at 09:41am

ESSEX County Council’s revised library opening hours – announced before parts of Essex became tier four – have been criticised by campaign group SOLE (Save Our Libraries Essex). 

The campaigners are particularly concerned about what they say is a reduction in opening hours after school and into the evenings, and on Saturdays. 

Many libraries across the county are seeing Saturday hours cut, including Wivenhoe, Buckhurst Hill, South Benfleet, Manningtree, Hockley, and the ‘hub libraries’ at Colchester, and Chelmsford, Elsewhere places like Walton will see their libraries open just two days a week.
Wivenhoe library user Jo Fletcher-Cross told the SOLE Facebook page:-

‘It is so upsetting. I will no longer be able to take my daughter to the library as Wivenhoe is losing Saturday afternoon and that is the only time I can manage.’ 

‘But it also makes me think of myself as a kid, with no money for books and an unsuitable home environment for learning. I would not have coped, or got out of that environment, without the library system. Libraries meant the world to me as a child and a teenager.’*

‘A very clear pattern is emerging’ said SOLE in a statement. ‘While overall there might be a tiny increase in opening hours, after school, evening, and Saturday hours are being reduced. When will school students be able to visit and carry out their studies? What about all of us working nine to fives?’ ‘

Essex County Council has failed to even consult on these changes. And to base future opening hours on the events of 2020 – with many furloughed and working from home, and schools closed – is patently absurd. We all know “temporary” measures all too often become permanent.’

‘The real danger is that these revised opening hours could lead to a reduction in use.

And just as Essex County Council has cynically done in the past, it will be used as an excuse for even more library cuts.’

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