Chigwell library could close after Essex Council says libraries are underused
- Credit: Archant
Chigwell library is one of 25 libraries earmarked for closure.
Essex County Council said there are 31per cent fewer people using libraries than there were in 2008 with 100,000 less users.
It has launched a major consultation about book facilities in the region and Chigwell Library, Hainault Road, is one of the sites under threat.
Councillor Susan Barker, cabinet member for customer services, said some libraries are not viable and volunteers may be able to run them instead.
“We want to create a library service with a wider appeal, which is more relevant to and a better fit with people’s lives – one which is online 24-7, is faster, and offers users more choice,” she said.
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“We believe library services play a unique role in society for reading, learning, digital access and culture.
“Society has changed, libraries are not used by the majority of our residents.
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“And of those residents who are library users, only one in five is an active library user.”
Cllr Barker said technology has transformed how people read books and access information and entertainment, which is why the council must look critically at the current library locations and respond to the changes.
“We want to introduce better library spaces where we do have them - smart, modern and comfortable – and where, for instance, you might be able to swipe in using a smart card, pick up parcels or bring your toddlers for rhyme time,” she added.
“We also have to make sure that we continue to offer value for money. That may mean some libraries are not viable. But if that is the case, we want to talk to communities about how they can become involved and run a library service with our support.
“The consultation is the opportunity to feedback on our plans and make sure that views are heard and considered. “ Tim Roberts UNISON Eastern regional manager said Essex County Council is threatening to rip the heart out of our communities.
“If the only thing libraries did was make knowledge available to all, then these closures would be an act of cultural vandalism – but the fact is they do so much more, from children’s story times to helping elderly and vulnerable people connect with the world around them,” he said.
“And we can’t run a high-quality and accountable library service on goodwill alone.
“If we want our kids to fall in love with reading, we need properly trained, properly paid staff to guide them through the process in properly resourced libraries.
“Instead the council is telling our children that their futures don’t matter.”
The consultaion will run until November 29, visit: libraries.essex.gov.uk/libraries-consultation