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Books and reading remain top priority, say Essex residents

library activities in bubbles coming out of a book
24 July 2018

Quality and range of books and other materials came out as the top priority in a countywide survey of library users and non-users.

People also value well-informed staff and volunteers and the safe space libraries provide for reading, socialising, studying and activities. Library users and community leaders are bursting with ideas about what they would like to see or do in libraries future. And a quarter of survey respondents were interested in volunteering for libraries.

 Your Community, Libraries and You is a report published on 24 July 2018 that summarises the results of the largest programme of public engagement and research about libraries in Essex for at least a decade. As well as the survey the council interviewed library users and ran 11 events for community groups, leaders and others interested.

Nearly 900 ideas and suggestions were made at the Your Community, Libraries and You events. Recurring themes were:

  • Libraries need better promotion and publicity
  • Interest in hiring libraries for other activities when they are closed, such as rehearsals, performances, businesses and groups
  • The value of libraries in helping to reduce social isolation
  • Extending the services offer to share space with other services
  • Retaining focus on increasing skills and knowledge
  • Encouraging young library users AND bringing different generations together.

All the information and insight gathered from this engagement will be used to help inform a comprehensive and strategic approach to shaping a fit for future, financially sustainable and community focused library service. 

Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer and Corporate said, “Books and reading are still at the top of the list of things people expect from libraries, but people clearly also value the staff and volunteers and the space libraries offer for a host of other activities. I was struck by the enthusiasm and wealth of ideas that people shared at the public events and am heartened that people in Essex are up for change and want to work with us to create libraries fit for future generations.”

Read the report.