£3m investment will improve 'clunky' system, says head of Essex libraries

£3m investment will improve 'clunky' system, says head of Essex libraries

The head of Essex's libraries has branded the county's current library IT system "clunky and out of date", as she hails the opportunity to invest in the service.

Updating councillors on the progress of the Essex Future Libraries Strategy, head of libraries Juliet Pirez said a new IT system would be "cheaper" and "more modern" than the current system. 

The changes are due to be made as part of a £3million investment to make Essex's library service "fit for the 21st century", announced by county council leader David Finch in July. 

About £1.9million has been earmarked for the refurbishment of a limited number of libraries, with plans in the works to update library technology to improve the system for managing stock and customer data as well as setting up community libraries. 

Pirez said: "We have a system that’s clunky and out of date and really expensive and it is a combination of add-ons. Any changes we have wanted to make to it since 1994 has been added on at a very expensive cost. So this is our chance to put that to one side. We are looking at different options at the moment including a consortium option which would give us lots more stock and services than we have at the moment. I can guarantee that anything we get will be cheaper than what we are paying for now and it will be more modern than the system we have now."

Essex County Council ditched its plans to close 25 of its 74 libraries this summer, following a high-profile campaign with support from authors including David Walliams and Jacqueline Wilson. It is now considering setting up 19 community-run libraries. 

Pirez added: “The idea is that our libraries become community hubs and they attract a wider and more diverse audience. We need to use this money to create a more comfortable and practical space for everyone in the community.”