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
  • language collections
  • online driving theory tests
  • family history
  • local studies collection
  • spoken word collection

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.

Language materials

We have a range of materials in different languages, these are mostly based at The Forum.

They are available in a range of different formats :

  • books
  • CDs
  • 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 Pressreader website or downloadable 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 at your local library.

All our 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 of our libraries. You can also access the Theory Test Pro from outside of the library using your library card.

Family history

All library branches have a subscription to Find My Past.

This is available to anyone in our libraries using a using a Southend Library ticket.

Find My Past is aimed at family historians and gives access to over 10 billion records including:

  • 1921 Census
  • The largest collection of UK parish records: birth, marriage and death
  • Institutional registers: hospital, prison, government and postal service
  • Migration records (World edition)
  • The largest collection of Irish records (World edition)
  • Military records
  • British Newspaper Archive

The Forum has a number of useful records in the local history collection including:

  • Southend newspapers on microfilm
  • Kelly's Directories

If you are planning a visit to use any of the microfilm or microfiche you will firstly need to have booked a microfilm/fiche scanner.

All enquiries for family history research should be made to the Forum.

The fees for this research can be found on our library facilities and fees pages.

The Forum can also provide a range of records on microfiche or microfilm for the following:

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

For more information call us or email

Local studies collection

The local studies reference collection in The Forum covers the whole of Essex but concentrates on:

  • South East Essex
  • City of Southend-on-Sea
  • Rochford and Castle Point District Council areas

It includes:

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

Spoken word collection

All our libraries have the following spoken word on either CDs or e-audio format to download including:

  • classics
  • short stories
  • comedy
  • poetry
  • BBC drama
  • biographies

Contact a library

Telephone: 01702 215011

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