England's library visitors continue to drop

Image caption,
Attendance has continued to drop since 2005

The number of adults visiting libraries in England has fallen steadily over the last five years, a government report has revealed.

In 2005, 16.4% of adults people attended their local library once a month. New research indicates that the figure had dropped to 12.8% last year.

However, children's visits remained steady during the five-year period.

The figures were published in a report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS).

Overall, 39.4% of adults surveyed said they had visited a public library at least once in the last year, compared with 48.2% in 2005.

The number of weekly library goers in England has gone down by 32% in 5 years. More than 60% have not stepped foot inside a library in the last year.

Visits by children aged 11-15 remained static over the five-year period, with 71.6% using their local service.

Records for children aged 5-11 only began in 2008, and showed an insignificant decline, from 75.3% to 74.9%.

This year's survey questioned fewer people than in previous years, but the results are still representative of the general population.

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced plans to help the library service take a more central role within local communities.

Ten submissions have been chosen from proposals put forward by local authorities.

"A strong library service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services," Mr Vaizey said.

He said he wants people to think "imaginatively about where libraries could be" as there are a number of closures being threatened across the UK.

A pub in the Yorkshire Dales is currently being used as a library after the villagers of Hudswell bought it to save it from closing.

The books are from North Yorkshire County Council but the lending is run by the volunteers.

Other suggestions that are about to be trialled in parts of the country are to have library services in supermarkets, shops or run by volunteers.

In Doncaster three libraries have been earmarked for closure and five are under threat in Lewisham.

Tim Coates, who is a library campaigner and consultant, said: "I believe we will lose between 600 to a 1,000 libraries in the next 12-18 months and that may be only the beginning, we are seeing the destruction of the public library service."

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