Essex County Council is running two online sessions to give residents the chance to air their views on its library service and help shape its future.
In 2019 the council reversed a decision to close 25 out of 74 libraries in the county following strong opposition from residents, with backing from writer David Walliams, poet Michael Rosen and author AL Kennedy. It has now pledged to keep all libraries open, but has floated the idea of allowing volunteers to run some of them.
The online sessions will be led by the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, Louise McKinlay, who will outline ideas for the service and its future development. Residents will be able to discuss these, as well as make suggestions and offer feedback.
A statement on the council's website says: "The county council has firmly positioned the development of library services as a priority for the new administration, recognising their importance not only as places to encourage and support reading and learning, but also as community spaces used by all sections of local communities."
Cllr McKinlay added: “I want to see libraries at the heart of our communities. That is why we plan to invest in, enhance and protect the library service. Talking to residents and library users about the key principles for the service is the first stage in our commitment to making this happen. It is really important that we engage with our residents on the key principles driving the strategy. I would like to hear from residents who are current library users but also from people who are not presently using the service, so we can better understand what they want from the service."
Residents can register their interest via the following links:
Morning session 11:30-12:30, 20th September: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/have-your-say-on-the-library-service-tickets-169622719119
Evening session 18:00-19:00, 20th September: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/have-your-say-on-the-library-service-tickets-169624544579