All of the libraries in Waltham Forest are currently closed. The council says that this is due to the government guidance on coronavirus, although most non-essential shops are now open.
While it is great to see that there is now the option to order the delivery of library books and limited services available online, this is of no help to the many people in the borough either without internet access or who are not familiar with how to use it.
According to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index, 9 million people in the UK cannot undertake basic activities such as turning on a device, connecting to Wi-Fi or opening an app by themselves and 3.6 million are completely offline. The report concludes that it is the most vulnerable and disadvantaged who are the most likely to be digitally excluded, including the elderly and those on low incomes.
In any event, libraries do not just exist to provide books. They give access to a whole range of community services, from careers advice to visitor parking permits, and help to level the playing field in society.
For the sake of the many residents who rely on them, I would urge the council to reopen our libraries as soon as possible.
Ciara Simmons, Walthamstow
Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats, Spokesperson for Services and Innovation
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