The Future Library Services Strategy 2019-2024 has been approved by Essex County Council’s Cabinet.

The revised strategy proposes a future for every single library in Essex, as well as giving the service the opportunity to expand.

The decision comes after the Council announced earlier this month that no libraries across Essex will not close for the next five years.

Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Debden, and North Weald facilities were all under threat of shutting down.

Of the 49 which would remain, 19 libraries could be staffed and run by community groups if volunteers come forward.

Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet member for customer, corporate, culture and communities gave a speech following the meeting.

“I am pleased with the outcome of today’s Cabinet meeting,” she said. “Today’s decision to approve the future libraries strategy follows months of engagement, public consultation and significant work to ensure we have a service fit for a modern age.

“We understand people are curious to know what will happen to their local library and now that the final strategy has been approved we can get to work on developing more detailed plans to deliver it.

“We hope to share these plans in the autumn.”

Answers to frequent questions and to information for groups interested in setting up community-run libraries are due to be set up by the Council in due course.

The new strategy focuses on two key elements one includes developing a plan to invest £3m over the life of the strategy to improve libraries

The latter involves working with and supporting community groups or other partner organisations to set up community run libraries.

The investment plan also includes embracing new technology and ‘smart libraries’ that enables users to choose when and how they access books in numerous communities.

Groups interested in setting up community-run libraries will be offered a £18,000 grant over three years, an initial donation of books, training and support from experienced library staff.

Essex County Council also noted that library opening hours will not change for the first year while more insight is gathered in order to create an overall pattern for libraries.

Council-run libraries will aim to maximise access to libraries facilities through a combination of staffed and volunteer opening hours, smart technology and an improved eLibraries.

To read the full strategy, visit