Wivenhoe library and librarians are under threat and Wivenhoe is rallying to the rescue! I have used some of the local wishes from the ‘Wish Tree’ in this article. (First published for WivSoc).
Essex County Council have put forward a plan to downgrade or close all of the 74 libraries across Essex. Every library has been assigned a score based on the proximity of the nearest library, how well used they are, population served and the deprivation and social isolation in the community. Wivenhoe has been identified as a Tier 3 library – ‘where no library provision is required in order to provide a comprehensive and efficient service but where it would be desirable if library facilities could be made available.’ Wivenhoe is scheduled to close and be replaced by a volunteer-run collection of books, wherever we can find for it. Suggestions have included: a pub; a telephone box; a community hall or a café.
Please keep Wivenhoe library open. My children really love coming.
Without exception, everyone approached and informed about this threatened closure has been shocked and keen to save the library and the staff needed to run it. Many people told stories about how important the library was when they were children, when their children or grandchildren were small, what a lifeline it is for their grandparents, as well as the many people who use it now for everything from refuse sacks to holiday bookings, from homework to Homer, from music to magazines …
Many people said they would gladly volunteer to keep the library open – but the offer is for 200 books to be provided, no access to library services, computers or the library network, and no library building. Most people would like a modernised, extended library service and lots more community use.
Keep our library open – to encourage more people to read and to give me a place to escape to!
A small group of Wivenhoe residents got together to plan how we can draw attention to the consultation and save our precious library and friendly, helpful, invaluable librarians. We decided to stage a RAID on the library in December! A light hearted celebration of the library, but a chance to rebel by doing what we should be doing – using the library. Everyone was encouraged to take out their allocated 14 books on the same Saturday. The shelves were bared, many tickets were renewed. The automated machines were not working, so the librarians worked even harder – but the atmosphere was a happy, party in celebration of our library and they were glad of our support.
‘I wish the library to stay open and remain a hub for the community.’
At the same time, we collected up everyone’s wishes for the library on purple ribbons. These will be delivered to Essex County Council, but first they dressed the tree outside William Loveless Hall on the day of the second RAID, one month later, again coinciding with our lively Wivenhoe Community Market.
‘Keep reading free.’
At the second RAID the emphasis was on using our tickets, more people joined and re-joined the library and many found out about the dozens of clubs and activities which go on in there. Some people have been inspired to create new groups and the ‘Little Swans’ rhyme and reading group is back.
There have been over 24,000 responses to the Essex Libraries consultation. Most are saying don’t close libraries, don’t save money in this way, don’t neglect the duty of the council to provide a good library service and encourage people to use it, ( 1964 Libraries Act).
In one big push, the final RAID was, ‘Bring a friend to the library’ day. Supported by our local Wivenhoe Bookshop.
Our aim is to make sure everyone knows the library needs our help, everyone fills in the consultation and Essex County Council heeds our wishes. The consultation is over, but the struggle continues.
Please look for Facebook pages: SOLE and Save Wivenhoe Library
Books take us to new places and inspire us. Essex County Council, please don’t take our books away.