The future libraries strategy has been developed following an extensive engagement exercise. Informal engagement happened alongside a public consultation ran for 12 weeks, from 29 November 2018 to 21 February 2019.
Nearly 22,000 individuals, families and organisations responded to the survey. That equates to about 9 percent of library users and 1.5% of the Essex population. The results were analysed by a specialist research company in the Essex Future Library Service Consultation report.
The strategy was discussed at public meetings including a meeting of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee on 18 July. The strategy was agreed at a Cabinet meeting on 23 July. More information and minutes from the public meetings can be found on the Essex County Council website.
Key themes from strategy
The strategy proposes a future for every single library in Essex, as well as giving the service the opportunity to expand. It also commits that no libraries will close in the next five years.
The new strategy focuses on two key elements:
- developing an investment plan to improve libraries: prioritising, at least initially, larger libraries to deliver a consistent high-quality look and feel across libraries in the Council-run network
- working with and supporting community groups or other partner organisations to set up community run libraries, with the aim of ensuring a library service is retained in every current location, and potentially established in three or more new locations.
Read the Essex Future Library Services Strategy.
Find out more about community libraries.
Other library services
Community outreach and associated services will be considered as part of the new strategy.
Over the five years we will look to extend opening hours (where there is community need), including into the evening, through smart library access or resourced by volunteers where possible or can be made affordable. There will be no change to opening hours for a year, to allow time to review, then set hours based on usage data and insight.
We will continue to run the mobile library service and review it regularly to adapt to changing needs. Find out about mobile library stops and times near you.
Now the strategy is approved we’ll put together a more detailed plan. This is a high level, five-year strategy so it does not set out a timescale. We will start by engaging with those communities that have so far expressed interest in setting up community-run libraries We also hope to start improving Council-run libraries before April 2020. We’ll prepare another report to Cabinet to consider investment proposals.
More information will be published on the Community Library Services pages over the coming weeks and months.