All Essex Libraries are to remain open after a consultation revealed a renewed enthusiasm for the service.
During the 12 week consultation, residents were asked what they thought of the library service, its buildings and how they saw the future, after it was revealed that book lending was dramatically declining year on year across the county.
Just over 20,000 people replied to the survey and showed people across Essex had “reignited their love for libraries” with many communities offering to run a library service and the buildings in the future.
Leader of Essex County Council, Cllr. David Finch (Con), said: “I am delighted that people have rallied behind their local libraries and have a renewed energy for them to remain open.
“This is just what we wanted and now we will respond by ensuring all Essex Libraries will stay open during the new strategy we are drawing up.”
Plans to invest millions of pounds are now being drawn up to ensure that all libraries keep pace with fast moving technologies, and as more and more people turn to e-books, apps and websites so Essex will look to bolster the service and be the go to brand for internet books, music as well as bringing in other organisations under one roof to help and assist residents.
Cllr. Sue Lissimore (Con), Prettygate ward said she was “delighted” Prettygate library will be remaining open following “many meetings and discussions” with Essex County Council.
“I’d also like to thank local residents who have contacted me, signed petitions and completed the consultation to get across to Essex County Council how important the building and services are to us”, Sue added.
Cllr. Finch continued “We must now respond to the changing market and how people use the library service with so many other competitors in the field. It has also showed that a large number of local groups wish to run their library and turn it much more into a local community centre.
“We shall now work with them to ensure this happens and we shall invest in them as well as all our libraries across Essex. We believe in empowering our communities and this is just another example.”
Essex County Council say those who wish to borrow books in the traditional way will still continue. Plans for the libraries to become more social places towards a café society atmosphere and a one stop shop for other council services are being considered.