Knowledge is power – and free at libraries | Letters

The decision not to close 25 libraries in Essex is to be celebrated, whatever the reason behind it, writes Lynne Collins, while Sue Wilkinson says reading is an ideal way to entertain children during the holidays

Re your report about Essex libraries (Protests force council to scrap library closures plan, 10 July), I was among the thousands who protested at the clear bias demonstrated in the public consultation that looked very much like an attempt to reinforce a foregone conclusion. Given the strength of public opinion, it is gratifying to see what looks like a “people power” happy ending.

The people very sensibly commissioned an independent pro bono review at the University of Essex into the methodology used, and the review’s findings indicated that any results from the consultation would be questionable.

On that basis, perhaps Essex county council’s decision to invest in libraries, rather than close them, has been influenced by the possibility of judicial review rather than public opinion. Whatever the reality, knowledge has been shown to be power. And that’s only one good thing about libraries.
Lynne Collins
Hadleigh, Essex

• New research from The Reading Agency shows that 40% of parents and carers feel stress, anxiety or dread just thinking about the summer holidays. A large reason for this is down to money. Over half of parents/carers said they spend an extra £500–£1,500 on family entertainment.

We’re calling on parents and carers to use reading as a way to take the pressure off themselves. The Summer Reading Challenge, which encourages four to 11-year-olds to sign up to their local library and read six books of their choice, can provide a fun and free solution. Reading together is a great way to spark lively conversation among families, as well as helping children improve their confidence and develop empathy. Research also shows that children who use libraries are twice as likely to be above-average readers.
Sue Wilkinson
CEO, The Reading Agency

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