Books and reading are our core offer, but Essex library service also brings people together, fosters culture and creativity, helps people to learn lifelong skills, improve health and wellbeing, and provides a place where people can access information and support.
We offer a huge range of services and activities like baby weighing sessions, support to people with a visual or hearing impairment, and clubs where you can make new friends and learn a new skill or hobby.
In partnership with others, we help residents improve their digital skills and find jobs, while our coding clubs help young people become IT wizards.
We are also passionate about supporting the environment and are continually thinking about how we can do more to make a difference to climate change.
To support our communities to level up, our libraries will:
- expand our outreach service further - Many of our customers visit our library buildings, but we also care about those residents who, for different reasons, cannot get to their local library. We will ensure they know about the Home Library Service and, if needed, we can arrange a visit from one of our friendly volunteers. We want to connect with local partners and be part of community events and activities so we will expand our mobile and outreach offer and take the library service out into the community.
- improve employability - In partnership with organisations such as Adult Community Learning, business and community groups, we will expand our employment support programmes. We will explore how libraries can be used in innovative ways to help adults gain new skills, improve their employability and find jobs.
- help improve health and wellbeing - We will explore with partners how we can offer residents help to improve their health and wellbeing, through our range of books, resources and activities. We believe we have an important part to play to reduce social isolation and improve mental health.
- help reduce digital exclusion - We will use our libraries to narrow the divide between those who have access to and who can use new technology and those who don't and can’t. We will explore opportunities to increase technology training so that Essex residents can develop new skills and access services and information online. Through our outreach programme, we will take the library service and the digital experience out to the community.
- connect residents to new, exciting services - We will continue to develop partnerships that provide our customers with access to support services that can have a positive impact on their lives such as the Citizens Advice. We will also engage with external partners such as The Literacy Trust, The Arts Council, and Libraries Connected to deliver exciting projects to encourage people to read and enjoy storytelling and the arts.
- explore options for providing chargeable activities alongside the existing free activities - Libraries already offer a range of activities outside the core service. These include events such as holiday activities for children and young people. We will explore options for chargeable activities that we could offer in addition to our free sessions. These would provide an enhanced offer, service or experience to our existing customers; appeal to new users of the service; or raise awareness of libraries as a potential partner and venue for other organisations. We will explore the interest from all age groups for sessions such as adult arts and crafts to increase the use of our libraries by the local community.
“The Knit and Natter group puts a smile on many people’s faces” - Sharon, group organiser
“Very helpful staff” - Library customer
“Will go the extra mile to give a good service” - Library customer
“Good resources for studying and research” - Library customer
“Helpful opening times” - Library customer
"I attended Rhymetime sessions with both my children, and it was invaluable for meeting other parents when I may have otherwise felt isolated in my local area." - Library customer
"The library is where I form friendships with like-minded book lovers…. When I'm new to an area, the library is my first destination. There I know I will find a warm welcome and help from the librarians." - Clacton Library customer