A FAMOUS television presenter from Colchester has thrown his support behind the need for libraries, saying: “For me, they are up there with hospitals.”

Dermot O’Leary, who studied at Colchester’s St Benedict's Catholic College and the Colchester Sixth Form, is best known for fronting hit show the X-Factor.

More recently, however, the 48-year-old has tried his hand at being an author, writing a series of popular children’s books which tell the tales of Toto the Ninja Cat.

Following a visit to St Thomas More’s Primary School on Tuesday, Dermot touched on the importance of libraries and how, even in a modern world, they are essential.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

“The book industry has ridden out the digital age and what is really interesting is it is almost really the only industry that has thrived,” he said.

“Even since technology has potentially been there to make it redundant, that has not happened.

“Kindles and e-books are still important, but the actual picking up of a booking and reading it, irrespective of your age, is great and I think that is heartening.

READ MORE: 'I grew up here, it was a no brainer' - Dermot O'Leary launches reading project at Colchester school

“But not every kid can afford a book, so libraries are hugely important, and they are up there with hospitals as far as I am concerned.”

Dermot’s supportive comments come just over two years after Essex County Council performed a U-turn on their controversial plans to axe libraries in the area.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Tony Ball, Essex councillor responsible for education excellence, lifelong learning, and employability, now says libraries still have a huge part to play in our society.

He said: “What came out of our consultation was that libraries are very much loved and valued by our communities and they are much more than just books and reading.

“I think what it has given us a chance to do is ask what libraries mean for the future and gives libraries the opportunity to adapt to the needs of the future.

“Maybe I am old fashioned but holding an actual book in your hands is still much more pleasurable than holding a Kindle.

“Although, if that is what gets children reading in the future, then of course that is great as well.”