Library Visits Drop by a Quarter in Eight Years Suggests Survey

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4th October 2013 17:27 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport survey into the population’s engagement with arts and heritage, found that in the twelve months leading up to June 2013, a third (36%) of people in England had used a library, down from half (48%) of people in 2005/6 when the survey was last carried out.

The biggest drop was seen among young users, with only three tenths (31%) of the 16 to 24 age group using a library, down a fifth (20%) on the 2005/6 figures.

Around 350 libraries are thought to have shut since April or be at risk, according to Public Libraries News. However, major cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester have implemented major schemes to open or refurbish their central libraries.

Referring to the survey results, a DCMS spokesman said libraries were "still hugely important", with 4.5 million visits per week.

Further figures from the survey showed that the proportion of adults visiting museums or art galleries had risen from two fifths (42%) to half (53%) since 2005.

Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said:

“These figures are shocking but sadly not surprising. When there are less libraries, less librarians and less money to spend on stock, you can't be surprised if usage drops.”

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries said:

“It is crucial that they understand what important resources library services are, and adapt and develop services to meet people's expectations in our rapidly changing world… There are great examples of innovation and creativity in the delivery of library services, and we want to see more local authorities doing that.”

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