May 14, 2010

Library lending on rise?


Tain Public Library, Scotland

Tain Public Library, Scotland

Here’s an interesting statistic from our friends across the pond. According to this report in the Daily Telegraph, “The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) revealed that 310.8 million books were borrowed from libraries across the country in 2008/09.The figure represents a 1 per cent increase compared with the previous 12-month period, the first rise in book borrowing in 10 years.”

And who is responsible for this rise in library use? Children. Yes, figures also showed “that the number of children’s books borrowed from libraries across the UK increased 5 per cent last year, with 95.4 million children’s books being taken out compared to the 90.6 million in the previous 12-month period,” according to the Telegraph.

Libraries are delighted with the statistics and are touting their aggressive outreach programs as the cause. Miranda McKearney, director of the charity the Reading Agency, told the Telegraph, “libraries had made a huge effort to make reading more inclusive for all. They now offer reading groups, challenges, author events, baby rhyme times and clever promotions to guide book choice.”

The libraries’ efforts seem to be paying off. “‘The tanker is turning around,” McKearney said, ” These statistics tell an important story about the public’s response to the new way libraries are promoting reading and offering digital access. Book borrowing has risen for the first time in a decade and library web visits are up almost 50 per cent.”

Happy to hear their tanker is turning around. Hope ours isn’t sinking ….

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.