YOUNG people raised their books in protest against the potential closure of a community library.

A passionate crowd maxed out their lending allowance at Prettygate Library on Saturday.

The group urged others to not only sign a petition but to also make their own voices heard in a consultation on the plans, being put forward by Essex County Council.

Mother and daughter, Sonia Bartley and Freya, 15, share a deep connection with libraries.


Dave Ling, Katy Vargas and Sonia Bartley (right)

Sonia, who grew up in south London, said: “It’s often not just a place for learning, it’s where you can find a safe space.

“When I was growing up, the library was my refuge when things got tough at home. A library is a lot more than just books.”

Her daughter Freya left with an arm full of young adult adventure books.

She added: “Paper is going to waste so libraries are also helping to save the environment.”


Alessandro Vargas wears a placard in solidarity

If the library shuts, Zara Ball, 12, will have no choice but to reduce her daily visits.

Younger sister Eilidh, ten, is a budding author and says young people are reading more than ever.

“I’ve always loved this library because it’s practically at my doorstep. I really want it to stay open,” she said.


Martin Goss and Julie Young were two of several councillors at the raid

Their mum, Jill, is disappointed the fact Prettygate is the second most used library in Colchester is being “ignored” in the plans.

She said: “To close it and not consider the footfall is ridiculous because it’s not only serving people locally, there’s Lexden, Shrub End and Monkwick, plus all of the schools in the area.”

However, the raid was not supported by all.

Beverly Davies, Conservative Colchester councillor for Prettygate, said it unfairly inconvenienced staff.


Beverly Davies (right) with Tory colleague Sue Lissimore (centre)

She said: “A book raid is far more harmful to staff and normal users of the service. It’s a cheap stunt.

“Most of the people who came aren’t regulars or from around here.

“Two staff left from Colchester to be here which left them short staffed.

“The original tiering of the library was flawed but there’s a chance that decision might be overturned, which we won’t know until June.

“But that’s what we’re working hard on.”


Madeline and Tim Robinson

Initiatives such as the home library service are at risk should the branch dissolve.

Volunteers deliver books to immobile and vulnerable readers but it is unlikely the service could continue to run from Colchester, which has been criticised for being less accessible.

Essex county councillor Sue Lissimore added: “Signing the petition isn’t enough, you must do the consultation as well.”

A public meeting about the future of the library is being held on January 17 at 7pm, inside the Prettygate Pub.

Click here to add your comments to the consultation.