Services in the Library

The services we offer include:

  • access to a catalogue of over 6m books and other library resources
  • e-books and e-audio books
  • computer access
  • CD, DVD and language collections
  • online driving theory tests
  • family history
  • local studies collection
  • spoken word collection
  • a collection of popular and classical music on CD is available at Leigh Library

In every library in Southend there are PCs which give access for both adults and children to:

  • the internet
  • webmail
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Publisher)

You can use these computers free of charge for up to 1 hour a day.

DVD Collection

All our libraries have DVDs for adults and children to borrow. You can choose from films, popular TV series and local studies titles. The Forum, Southend-on-Sea also stock a large Foreign Film collection as well as information DVDs including travel, art, health and fitness.

Language Materials

We have a range of materials on languages from Afrikaans to Welsh, mostly based at The Forum.

Available in a range of different formats : Books, CDs and Audio-Cassettes

Dual language dictionaries available for reference and loan

Variety of levels available: from complete beginner to advanced

Business, Travel and Holiday special courses

News and leisure magazines in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Urdu

Literature collection in European, Chinese and Indic languages


There is a wide range of Magazines to choose from on the RBdigital website and app. You can read them on your computer, smartphone or tablet for free.

Online Driving Theory Tests

You can practise for the Driving Theory Test through your local library. All Southend libraries offer Theory Test Pro for free. This service provides a realistic online simulation of the UK's driving theory test.

Access to Theory Test Pro is free for borrowers who call in to any Southend Libraries. You can also access the Theory Test Pro from outside of the library using your library card.

Family History

All Southend library branches also have books on how to research family history and through the free reservation service a wider range can be requested.

All library branches have a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition. This is available to anyone with a Southend Library ticket on the People's Network only in libraries.

Ancestry is aimed at family historians and gives access to census; births, marriages and deaths; military records and many more. It covers many countries including the UK, USA, Australia, the major European countries and many more.

The Forum: Southend on Sea has a number of useful records in the local history collection including Southend newspapers on microfilm and Kelly’s Directories. If you are visiting Southend to use any of the microfilm or microfiche resources you must book a microfilm/fiche scanner in advance.

All enquiries for family history research should be made through The Forum: Southend-on-Sea. The fees for this research can be found at Library Facilities and Fees.

The Forum: Southend-on-Sea also has an Essex Record Office Archive Access Point, which provides a range of records on microfiche or microfilm.

  • Essex Parish Registers
  • Tithe apportionments
  • Land Tax Assessments
  • Early wills of Essex people

 For more information call us or email

Local Studies Collection

All libraries in Southend have a collection of books on Essex and the Southend area available to borrow.

The local studies reference collection in The Forum: Southend covers the whole of Essex but concentrates on South East Essex, the Borough of Southend-on-Sea, and the Rochford and Castle Point District Council areas. It includes:

  • books
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • journals
  • illustrations
  • newspaper cuttings


There is also an Essex Record Office Archive Access Point containing microfiche or microfilm parish registers for Essex, including some from the Essex London Boroughs.

There are also copies of land tax assessments, wills, title maps and other miscellaneous documents relating to South East Essex. All original documents are in Chelmsford at the Essex Record Office.

For more information about local studies please see related downloads.

Spoken Word Collection

All Southend Libraries have spoken word on CDs and e-audio format to download.

We offer thousands of adults and children's titles, everything from Agatha Christie to Harry Potter including classics, short stories, comedy, poetry, BBC drama and biographies.

All spoken word titles are listed on the online library catalogue where you can search and request titles through the library website.

Listed below are some useful websites for Spoken Word titles:

  • BBC Shop
  • W.F. Howes
  • Naxos Audio Books
  • Penguin
  • The Audio Book Store
  • The Home Library Service

We offer a free, volunteer led service, delivering library resources to customers in their homes when they may no longer be able to visit the library. For further information please contact the Community Development Officers on 01702 534123.

Page last updated: 19/09/2019