LIBRARIES across Essex could be closed with remaining ones rebranded as"hubs", run by their communities.

Essex County Council's 74 libraries are to go under review later this month after the authority admitted traditional library use has "collapsed" in the last ten years.

Around 800 people work at the county's libraries - which annually cost £10million to run - and job losses have not been ruled out under the blueprints.

The council says its vision at the remaining libraries is for an on-line service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • See the list of 25 libraries - including Prettygate and Holland on Sea - set for closure here.

Susan Barker, Essex County Council's cabinet member for Customer Services, said she wanted libraries to serve more as "hubs".

“Society has changed; libraries are not used by the majority of our residents.

"And of those residents who are library users, only one in five is an active library user.

“Technology has transformed how people read books and access information and entertainment, which is why we must look critically at our current library locations and respond to these changes.

“We want to introduce better library spaces where we do have them - smart, modern and comfortable – and where, for instance, you might be able to swipe in using a smart card, pick up parcels or bring your toddlers for rhyme time.

“We also have to make sure that we continue to offer value for money. That may mean some libraries are not viable. But if that is the case, we want to talk to communities about how they can become involved and run a library service with our support."

The council will begin a 12-week public consultation on November 29 and the council's cabinet will also consider the proposals next week.

Conservative member Mrs Barker couldn't confirm whether any staff jobs would go.

"This is a consultation and until we have spoken to all our communities, come up with ideas, improvements and solutions we don't know - but we will be asking staff to work in a different way."

Mrs Barker said library visitors borrowing items barely spoke to staff due to self-service facilities currently on offer.

"I need those staff to be out there more, helping people, visiting pre-schools or play groups, trying to encourage them to read," she added.

Mrs Barker wouldn't be drawn on which libraries had been shortlisted for potential closure.

However, this information was due to be made public in cabinet papers published this afternoon.

"It will only close if the community doesn't want the library", she said.

She also declined to answer how much money might be saved by the changes.

"This isn't about saving money, this is about making sure people have libraries they want to use."

Mrs Barker also said the proposals were about "co-locating" with other organisations to use the buildings in more diverse ways and gave the NHS as one example where it could give flu jabs.

"It could be anything - we are leaving nothing out, everything is on the table."

Community leaders including Colchester's MP Will Quince today voiced their concerns over the proposals.

Consultation findings will be published and any changes proposed considered in June 2019.

Drop in sessions will be held at every library providing an opportunity to ask questions, complete the consultation and find out more.

Alternatively visit for further information or to complete the consultation online.