Next year's Essex Book Festival is already starting to take shape and as with the very first festival, libraries will be at the heart of it.

That's the pledge director Ros Green made this week highlighting a number of events next year which will celebrate the value of local libraries and what they bring to their communities.

It's particular apt this week with the announcement Essex County Council is about to start a radical shake-up of the library service with the possibility that a third of the 74 libraries currently in operation might be closed.

READ MORE: Essex County Council will close these libraries unless communities save them

Ros says: "The festival turns 20 next year and we wanted to do a number of things to mark that milestone.

"One of those was to celebrate the library. One of the things that's always been really exciting and unique about the festival is it's relationship with the library service and that's where the book festival started.

"So I started thinking about what the library means to me. It's more than just a building, it's very much at the heart of the community, where people meet and go and have conversations, and for me that should be something that's championed."

Along with the continuation of hosting various author readings, and getting involved with the festival's Books That Rocked Essex poll, one of the major events that will run next year as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations is the Human Library.

Just like in a real library, a visitor to the Human Library can choose a Book from a range of titles. The difference is that Books are people, and reading is a conversation.

The Essex Book Festival is hosting their Human Library as part of its Place weekend, which will take place in Colchester on Sunday March 24, once again exploring identity, home and heritage.

Ros adds: "You know how they say don't judge a book by its cover, well that's the same principle for the Human Library. People judge each other in much the same way they judge a book by its cover and we want to change that.

"We might have a homeless person, someone of a different faith or nationality but a person people will find interesting to talk to and it works just like a normal library. You go to the desk and say you'd like to borrow that person for a ten minute conversation and hopefully like reading a book find out something interesting."

Created for the 2000 Roskilde Music Festival by Danish activists, who formed it in response to a violent hate crime, their idea was to use the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate conversations that challenge prejudice, thereby reducing the risk of tension and violence.

From a base in Copenhagen the founders of the Human Library Organisation have helped the movement to grow steadily across the world, and it is currently active in more than 60 countries.

"If people are roughly 60 per cent water," Ros tells me, "they are definitely 100 per cent stories.

"To make this happen we're currently running a fundraising campaign on Space Hive to which Essex County Council has already donated more than £2,000."

For more information, or to donate, go to