Save Thaxted Library
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We are appalled that Essex County Council has announced that 25 libraries are earmarked for closure in Essex and we wish to make a particular plea to oppose the closure of Thaxted Library. This is a model of what a good, modern community library should be, and it is serving the people of Thaxted well.
The proposal, based on data from the use of library cards is flawed, as it is bound to misunderstand the use of the facility by the community. Thaxted Library is more than just a building, it provides a service that is inclusive and vibrant, and enables users to learn, engage and remain connected to the community. Thaxted Library also serves as the Tourist and Community Information Centre and the offices of the Parish Council and the Clerk.
Thaxted is eight miles from Saffron Walden, twenty miles from the nearest hospital and not well-served by public transport. We are a surprisingly remote community. Without the Library, how are the elderly, people who don’t drive or children trying to do their homework supposed to access the information they need, or the ‘food for the soul’ that literature provide? The help from the librarian guides the child and the student and provides a lonely old lady or man with the warmth of human contact. This is where residents go to find out what is going on, buy tickets for events, use the computer with a bit of friendly assistance, and take their children to the magical children’s library in the old bank vault. This is where tourists go to get the most out of their visit to Thaxted - tourism being the main ‘industry’ in the village. The library is a community space imaginatively used.
Thaxted is an important historic town often referred to as “the jewel in Essex’s crown”: but with the increase in numbers of housing the infrastructure is at breaking point, and, at the same time, our amenities have been taken away one by one. The library has already been forcibly down-sized from larger premises so that Clarence House could be sold by Essex County Council. Since this was an important educational centre for Thaxted; some of the proceeds from this sale should have been re-invested in Thaxted’s educational infrastructure to compensate for its loss. Clarence House offered evening and classes in a range of academic and creative subjects. Now the classes have gone, the bank is gone and ECC proposes that our Library, the important hub of our community, should be taken away.
The idea that e-libraries are the modern, forward-thinking alternative to libraries is ill-conceived. Computers have their place, of course, but what about people without computers? Because they are now in a minority, do they no longer count? The joy of free public libraries is that they give the same opportunity to everyone.
This petition calls on Susan Barker and Essex County Council to recognise the importance of Libraries for the cohesion of communities, and to remove Thaxted Library from their list of Libraries recommended for closure.
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