Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Library Visitor Numbers Plummet

By Ben Aulakh

The number of people visiting Libraries in Gloucestershire has fallen by more than 50, 000 in the last year.

A new national report published by the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that the number of people who visit a library each week has dropped by 32% in the last five years, with more than 60% of people not using a library at all in that time.

In 2008 and 2009 a total of 2, 996, 415 people visited libraries across the county, however in the last 12 months this figure has fallen by 61,228 to 2, 905, 187.

Between April and July this year 957,633 visits were made to the county’s libraries, a drop of 53,895 on the same period last year.

The fall in visitor numbers comes after the County Council recently announced that the services’ budget has been cut in light of current spending pressures.

The council has said that the need to protect frontline services and care for more older and vulnerable people has meant that they have had to reduce library spending.

Councillor Antonia Noble, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries said, "Our figures show a drop in library usage over the past few years despite our efforts to attract new customers.

"Absolutely no decisions have been made on the future funding of libraries, however, like every single council service, this will be looked at when we're making decisions about our budget in October."

The council has introduced the lending of DVDs and computer games to bring more youngsters through the doors, self-service machines have been also introduced to speed up the time it takes to check out books and a free online reservation service has been created.

However, despite these efforts visitor numbers are continuing to fall, while costs are rising and pressures on council services are increasing.

Cllr Noble added, "Gloucestershire County Council remains committed to providing a library service, but in the changing world we live in we have to be sure that we're providing services in the best possible way.”

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