Save Our Libraries respond to council proposals

General / Wed 27th Apr 2022 am30 06:30am

CAMPAIGN group Save Our Libraries Essex, SOLE, has responded to Essex County Council’s cabinet last week signing off its new strategy for libraries.

The group came together in the autumn of 2018 and successfully campaigned against plans to close a third of Essex’s seventy-four libraries, with thousands joining protests across the county. The campaign received celebrity endorsement, with comedian and writer David Walliams and Tracey Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson among the high profile names that backed the movement.

Following the U-turn on closures in the summer of 2019 SOLE went onto to campaign against plans for the voluntary takeover of many of Essex’s libraries, describing plans top establish the ‘largest network of community run libraries in the UK’ as ‘charity shop libraries’ and a ‘closure plan by stealth’ (Essex could be home to ‘largest network of community-run libraries’ in the UK under bold new plan – Essex Live).

SOLE says it still has concerns about the new plans.

‘It stands to reason that when a library has to give up space to share with other organisations and services, there will be less room for books, less room to study, and less room for computers’, said a SOLE spokesperson.

‘We have seen from past experience that any cuts to library services – such as cuts to opening hours and the cuts to book stock, which is down by nearly half a million over the last decade – is then used to justify further cuts and even closures down the line. That clearly remains a danger.’

‘And are our libraries expected to become profitable and pay their way? We have already seen library space hired out for private events during opening hours, such as when Colchester Library users were denied access to the quiet study and local history area. Libraries cost just a tiny fraction of the overall Essex County Council budget and are already excellent value for money.’

The campaign is also seeking assurances over previous plans.

‘We also want to know if plans for so-called “community libraries” – or more appropriately charity shop libraries – have been quietly shelved. Will Essex County Council give the assurance that they are no longer seeking takeover bids for any of its professionally run libraries by voluntary organisations?’

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3 Comments for Save Our Libraries respond to council proposals:

David Forman
2022-04-28 02:04:25

It will be worth waiting to see how many books will be on the shelves of the newly refurbished town centre library. From an ecology point of view, it is better to see Kindle versions available.

Liz Miles
2022-04-28 09:05:26

Library print books are vital. The carbon footprint of reading devices like kindles is not small - and when print library books are reread by numerous readers their carbon footprint drops. Evidence shows that students recall information from screens less well than if read in print. Screens promote shorter concentration times, too. Also library bookshelf browsing allow for choice, discovery and discussion. We might also consider the widening digital divide.

2022-04-28 11:05:18

Difficult one this I love reading..always have but like many I bought a kindle but it was a bit of a novelty and what sealed it's doom was reading it in the bath!... however I do understand the ease it gives to access so much reading... However libraries do help with other things other than reading.. the town library housed the Harlow advice centre and the Harlow loans company and with any luck when it reopens it will offer the same with some new additions. Maybe the town is finding it hard to support funding all the libraries within its borders but if they closed I do believe it would be a loss as for some it is an easy way to use computers access the internet or just get out and be social. But money will be the final decision maker as per usual.

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