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Aim 1: Library Service and Literacy

Children grasping books on library bookshelves.

The enjoyment of reading is at the core of the services and activities on offer through our libraries, and we need to support and help those who are not confident when it comes to reading and literacy.

It is estimated that around 16% of adults in England have “very poor literacy skills” and around 2% to 6% of children have significant reading difficulties (Elliott, J.G. & Grigorenko, E.L. (2014). The Dyslexia Debate. Cambridge University Press: New York). For both children and adults this can have a serious impact on their self-esteem as well as their ability to access information that can have a serious impact on their life chances - adults with poor literacy skills may be locked out of the job market, have less access to health information, and, as a parent, they may not be able to support their child’s learning.

The Library Service will build people’s confidence in reading and writing by providing a safe and comfortable space where people can develop their literacy skills. The Service will focus on expanding opportunities to work with people who would benefit from additional support.

Libraries are inclusive and open to all. They provide free access to books, IT, events, and activities that inspire people to engage with reading and information as well as enjoy reading for pleasure.  Libraries are knowledge hubs and support residents to connect with other service and organisations.

To deliver a high quality service to our residents, our libraries will:

  • support children to be ready for school and improve their reading - We will work with early years providers, parents, schools, charities and the Essex Education Task Force to support children to be school-ready. We will develop their literacy skills, support education catch-up and provide a safe space for young people to study and learn outside the classroom.
  • help adults to improve their literacy - We are partnering with a range of organisations which support adults to improve their literacy skills for everyday life. This can strengthen their job opportunities, aspirations and independence.
  • run a new and exciting programme of events and activities - We will work with local partners and volunteers to build on our existing programme of events and activities for all ages, so that our current and future library users develop a lifelong love of reading and libraries.                       
  • keep our books and other resources up to date and appealing - We will continue to develop and use a variety of methods to provide us with in-depth information about our stock management choices including: our own system data on users' borrowing choices and preferences, information from our suppliers, market analysis on national reading trends, alongside direct engagement, and feedback from residents.
  • provide books and resources in formats that meet changing needs - Our online collections and resources like Find My Past and Ancestry are extremely popular, as is our wide range of e-books, newspapers and magazines. We will continue to provide access to a wide and rich range of printed books, special local collections, large print formats and audio books. As part of The Libraries Consortium, we can now offer Essex residents access to an additional six million items of stock.
  • increase residents’ involvement in shaping the service - We will continue to ensure that  our stock and service reflect the diverse interests and needs of our residents and communities. We will look at new ways for them to share their views and shape the service through regular feedback and input.
  • give our staff the skills and support to offer the best possible service - Well trained staff are vital. We will explore new ways to ensure staff have the right technical skills and service knowledge, can promote our resources and activities, and are flexible and adaptable to meet customers’ changing needs.
  • explore new roles and opportunities for volunteers - Volunteers are an essential and valued part of the library service in Essex, helping our paid staff throughout the year in the delivery of everyday activities and special events throughout the year. We want this to continue and will seek to recruit people with diverse life skills and experiences to help our team develop attractive new offers and services.

“Lovely displays particularly in the children’s library” - Library customer

"We visit regularly as a family to take out books and love that the principle of libraries reduces waste and encourages a love of books and reading." - Library customer


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