OPINION: Libraries must be given every chance to adapt and thrive

In recent months, people have asked me where I stand regarding the Essex County Council consultation on the future of Essex libraries.

Read more: Essex County Council Library Consultation

Our library service is an asset for local communities, a place for children to progress language, to become engaged with books, a place to fall in love with the written word – helping build a foundation for future learning and language development.

Of course, our local libraries often serve as more than a just book lending service. From community group sessions, to drop in centres for the elderly, to meeting places for mums and dads with pre-schoolers and not forgetting the ideal place to pick up a new recycling bin or bag too.

The sad reality is traditional library use has been on the decline in a number of locations across Essex. It is now more important than ever the library service is given every chance to adapt and thrive.

This recent consultation has certainly positively re-energised interest in Essex libraries and I hope this upward trend continues. However, it is vitally important future protests against proposed closures aren’t simply protests for the sake of protesting.

We must do all we can to protect and evolve the beauty that is the library service – OUR library service – to ensure libraries continue to exist for our future generations as they have done ever since the mid-nineteenth century.

Clear long-term planning to deliver a modern library service in today’s ‘always-on’ digital world is needed and investment in combining traditional methods with newer technologies will aid to achieve this.

I will continue to do what I can to support the continuation of the library service in Essex, especially here in Colchester. I ask those responsible for scrutinising the library consultation at Essex County Council and those key decision makers to really consider the long term impact of removing our libraries from the ‘community bookshelf’ of public services, what affect this will have on future generations.

Libraries are an important part of many people’s lives. Keep them going. Invest to progress.

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