HUNDREDS of campaigners joined protests across Essex, continuing to push for answers over the future of libraries.

Campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (Sole) organised a countywide day of action, protesting against “closures by stealth” and libraries being run by volunteers in the future on Saturday.

In Colchester, protesters gathered outside Colchester Library in Trinity Square at 11am, while protests took place all the way from Harlow in the west of Essex, to Manningtree in the north east of the county.

Josefine Bäckman Juliff, 12, has become the face of the libraries campaign in Colchester, regularly giving impassioned speeches during protests.

And Saturday’s day of action was no different, with the impassioned youngster speaking on her support for libraries and the need for full-time, paid staff.

She said: “Now, Essex County Council say they will not close the libraries for the next four-and- a-half years, but what they don’t say is they want the the libraries to be run by volunteers only.

“Do you hear me? Volunteers only.

“Volunteers do an amazing thing, they are giving up there free time and doing it with love and passion and don’t expect anything in return.

“But we need libraries that are open more than once a week, have more than 200 books, have computers and trained, paid staff.

“It is wrong what Essex County Council is doing, libraries are for everyone, from young to old.

“We need our libraries, we deserve our libraries and we need to let Essex County Council know we are not happy and we want all our libraries to stay open with paid staff.”

In Manningtree the ‘SOLE mates’ event took place at Manningtree Methodist Church between 10am and midday, where there was an exhibition of photographs from previous protests.

Last year, Essex County Council backtracked on its plan to close 25 of the county’s libraries after a fierce backlash from campaigners.

The authority pledged not to close any libraries for five years and to pump £3 million of investment into the service.

It still hopes to set up community-run libraries.

If the plans had gone ahead, 25 facilities would have closed and 19 of the remaining 49 libraries would be staffed and run by community groups.

Last summer, a Sole campaigner submitted a freedom of information request regarding who will be running libraries in the future.

A response, in August, indicated there would be answers within three months.

But there has still been no announcement from Essex County Council, leading campaigners to brand the “secrecy” as “making a mockery of accountability and democracy”.