Southend: Consultation On Future Of Libraries

11 June 2013, 00:00

A consultation has started on plans which could see some libraries in Southend run by community groups.

The Council there wants groups to run libraries as part of plans to transform the service over the next 15 years. 

Its key proposals are: 

- The main Library provision will be at The Forum, Southend From October 2013 the new central library provision at the Forum will be open seven days a week, have longer opening hours, wi-fi and 25 per cent more stock than presently exists in the current central library.

The Forum will feature bigger gallery space, a children?s library, coffee shop facilities, meeting rooms along with an outdoor entertainment space. 

- Two hub libraries proposed; one in the east of Southend and one in the west; 

Each hub will benefit from longer opening hours than at present, improved IT provision and book stock. 

The east hub library is proposed to be an amalgamation of Thorpedene and Friars libraries on a new site in Delaware Road. 

The west hub is proposed to be a development of either Leigh Library or Kent Elms Library. This hub will initially operate from an existing library site, but could be considered for relocation if a suitable site became available in the longer term. 

- The remaining branch libraries Westcliff, Southchurch and one in the west, are proposed to be offered to community groups to run as Community Managed Libraries.

Derek Jarvis, Executive Councillor for Culture & Tourism said: "This is a real opportunity for everyone to help shape Southend?s library service over the next decade and a half. You only need to look at the new Forum Library and Learning Centre to see what fantastic opportunities lay ahead for people of all ages in Southend. 

"We know from the high response rate to the first phase of consultation that the public value the library service highly. Like them, I want to see us sustain our library network in the future and the proposals within the consultation booklet allow us to do that. 

"We already have a high-performing library service and with this far-reaching review and consultation, we now have the chance to look at things way beyond the traditional remit of how many of us view a library. 

"Increasing e-book lending, developing a Virtual Library, extending the Home Library Service and increasing the use of mobile and 'pop-up' library services are all part of this consultation which hope people will recognise, extends way beyond the need to the necessity to make savings." 

Cllr Nigel Holdcroft, Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: "In financial terms there is no disguising the fact that the library service will need to make savings of 15 per cent - or £378,000 -by March 2016. 

"Many other authorities reacted to similar situations by the wholesale closure of libraries or by adopting other equally drastic knee-jerk responses ? that is not what we want to see in Southend. 

"The need to make savings shouldn?t be confused with the reason we are carrying out this detailed consultation - it's just one element in investigating what sort of library service we want in Southend for the next 15 years." 

The consultation is due to run until 8 September. 

The 12-page booklet also contains a questionnaire, both of which will be available online at:, at all libraries, and within the Council's Outlook magazine when it is published in July.