Join our libraries discussion

LIBRARIES are an integral part of the Thurrock community and the council wants that to remain so for decades to come.

On Wednesday (11 January) the Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr John Kent, called on local people to join with him in mapping the way forward.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s cabinet, he said: “We are in difficult economic times, but that is not the driver behind this,” pointing out the proposal was outside the budget-setting process.

He added: “We have said repeatedly over the past 18 months or so that improving educational standards for local people is our top priority and libraries must play a vital part of that process.

“That is why I want this ‘conversation’ to go far beyond the people who already use our libraries. In particular I want those who do not use our libraries to tell us why not; what’s missing and what we can do to draw them in.

“I want people who use other council services – from housing to social care, benefits to planning – to think how libraries and library services can be made more relevant to them; whether it is using the buildings for new purposes or making more services virtual and interactive without actually having to enter a physical building.

“It’s not a consultation in the strictest sense in that we literally do not know what we want to come out at the end of it except that it is new and better for local people than what we have today.”

Cllr Kent said: “We have seen what has happened in other authorities when they make changes to library services without a full consultation. We want to move forward with local people.”

He added that one issue was wi-fi in the libraries. “We don’t have it and that makes libraries much less attractive for younger people.”

Members agreed the council should go ahead with the proposal to discuss library services with local people as the first step towards transforming the service.

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