Scotland

Scots 'most likely' to use public library

Man walking into Central Library in Edinburgh Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Exactly half of those questioned had visited a library in the past year

Scotland has the highest level of public library use in the UK, new research has suggested.

Exactly half of the 1,000 Scots asked by the Carnegie UK Trust and Ipsos Mori said they had visited a library within the past year.

They found that families with young children, occasional readers and those who were "just about managing" financially were most likely to visit.

However, Scotland also saw the sharpest drop in library use since 2011 at 11%.

The five-year UK-wide study found that more than three-quarters (77%) of people said the facilities found at public libraries were important for their communities, while 37% said they were important for them personally.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of families with children aged five to 11 visited libraries last year, up 3% on 2011.

Better information

A total of 61% of people in the second lowest socio-economic group reported using a library at least once a month, while occasional readers - those who read a book every two or three months - rose about eight percentage points to just under 60% in 2016.

Across the British Isles, high levels of library use were also seen in Ireland, while the lowest recorded use was witnessed in Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The figures showed a rise in library use among those with primary school age children in Scotland

In England, many more people who read books infrequently were now found to be using libraries than previously. Young people aged 15-24 years tended to be the most likely to use a library, while over 55's were the least likely to use one.

The report also found the vast majority of those surveyed in Scotland (82%) were against replacing all library employees with paid staff, while 58% favoured the use of volunteers in conjunction with existing employees.

The most popular suggested improvements to libraries in Scotland were more events, better information on services, and a cafe or coffee shop.

'Enduring place'

Martyn Evans, chief executive of Carnegie UK Trust, said: "It's extremely promising that there's been a rise in library use in Scotland amongst households with primary school aged children, as well as an increase in frequent use among a key socio-economic group.

"However, we know that the future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to the changing needs of their communities.

"Local authority budgets are under severe pressure. All of us who value libraries' rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.

"We also know that the public want libraries to do even more."

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at the Scottish Library and Information Council, said: "It is clear from the research that public libraries in Scotland have an enduring place in people's hearts and that they are highly valued services.

"We need to ensure that libraries continue to prosper and deliver against key policy goals and wellbeing. The trust's recommendations set out a way in which we can all work towards a thriving future public library service."