1,000 signatures reached
To: Councillor Susan Barker
Save our Librarians* - No Closure by Stealth
Stop Essex County Council’s plans for so-called community libraries which would see so many of our public libraries lose their buildings, books and other stock, paid staff, computers and other IT equipment, access to inter library loans, the ELAN network, and ongoing financial support.
This is a closure plan by stealth. ECC must commit to continue funding a professional library service in all communities.
*While librarian is technically a professional qualification, for most of us a librarian refers to all the staff who do such a brilliant job working in our libraries.
Why is this important?
Having been reassured during July, when the leader of Essex County Council, David Finch, publicly announced that no libraries would close in the next 5 years, the truth came out at the Cabinet meeting.
We now know that Essex County Council wants its libraries to be run by volunteers in community buildings. They have asked for groups to put in expressions of interest in running the libraries and have promised the miserly sum of £18,000 over 3 years to resource them.
So dedicated library buildings will go, as will the store of books, computers, resources and trained staff. In will come well meaning volunteers working from a shared venue, where there will be no computers and books will need to be packed away at the end of the session. Librarians presently employed by the council, will either be redeployed or lose their jobs.
Of the libraries threatened with closure, we know that some 80 groups have expressed an interest in running them. These are developers, parish councils, churches etc, but ALL will be run by volunteers in a non dedicated building. Very little funding will be available with just 250 books per community library, changed every 12 weeks and the hours of opening will be dictated by whenever the community building and volunteers are available. However good the volunteers are they cannot replicate the skill, expertise and professionalism of the present paid library staff.
So we ask you to sign our petition to Save our Librarians and ensure that Essex County Council continues to provide the library service which it is legally obliged to. Essex needs fully staffed libraries. The people of Essex have and continue to pay for this service. They deserve a properly funded, properly resourced and properly staffed local library.
You can find out more here: https://38d.gs/essex-libraries
How it will be delivered
I hope to hand deliver it to Cllr Susan Barker at County Hall in Chelmsford