A campaign group who is fighting to keep libraries in Essex open has issued information packs to town and parish councils across the county warning of the "impossible job" for community groups taking over libraries.

Save Our Libraries Essex’s (SOLE) information packs look at the cost of running libraries compared to the grant being offered by Essex County Council.

The documents which were published over the weekend have been prepared by a working group led by a Cambridge University Librarian.

Last week a decision was made by community groups in Chigwell, Coggeshall, Harlow and Holland-on-Sea to withdraw their Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to take over the running of local libraries.

In a statement released today, SOLE said: "We see Councillor Barker [cabinet member responsible for libraries] has said she's 'confused' as to why community groups are withdrawing EOIs.

“Councillor Barker put a gun to people's heads and demanded they run their local library or their local library would close.

“Now she's put her gun away for at least five years and said no library will close in that time, it does seem astonishing Councillor Barker finds this in any way confusing. Is the pressure of fronting this closure plan by stealth getting to her? Should she consider her position?"

Last month Essex County Council withdrew its proposal to close a third of Essex's libraries, but has expanded on a plan for "community libraries".

SOLE has condemned the proposal, where community groups would not only be responsible for staffing and fully running libraries but housing libraries as well, as a "closure plan by stealth".

Essex County Council is proposing to offer community libraries a grant of £18,000 spread over three years - £8,000 in year one, £7,000 in year two, £3,000 in year three

SOLE added: "The purpose of our information pack is to ensure every single parish or town council or community group thinking of volunteering to run a library, knows they no longer have to come forward as a last resort to save their library.

“Furthermore they should also be aware of what an impossible job they'd be taking on, not only having to fully staff and run the library with little or no support, but house it as well.

“We urge any group that has submitted an EOI to withdraw it. Anybody wishing to receive a copy of the pack can email



The information pack will also be found at