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Increase in numbers visiting Devon’s libraries

posted 14 Dec 2015, 13:15 by Angie Cheshire   [ updated 14 Dec 2015, 13:15 ]

library childrens centres

Devon is continuing to lead the way nationally when it comes to library services.

Recent figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) annual library survey showed that the number of libraries across Britain has fallen and visits to libraries are down by 3.9%. In the South West there has been a 1.4% fall in usage in the past year.

However, Devon is bucking the trend. Not only has it kept all 50 of the county’s libraries open, but over three million visits to Devon libraries in 2014/15 ensured a 10% increase across the county. PC and WiFi usage has also increased in Devon’s libraries – by 100%.

Exeter Library, which re-opened in 2014 after major refurbishment, is the busiest library in the South West and is in the top 20 in the UK with over 560,000 visits last year. It’s now averaging around 52,000 visits per month and is on course for more than 600,000 visits this financial year.

Devon County Council’s Cabinet agreed last month that the county’s libraries will be taken over by a public service mutual, Libraries Unlimited, from April 2016. This will save the authority £1.5 million, on top of the £3 million saved on the library service budget in the past three years.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Library Service, said: “These visitor numbers illustrate the high regard in which Devon’s libraries are held by our local communities. Dedicated staff and volunteers have made it an extremely successful service that is valued and well-loved by residents across the county. The 10% increase in usage of our libraries is even more impressive when you consider the reduction seen regionally and nationally.

“We have always maintained that our intention is to keep our libraries open and creating Libraries Unlimited to take over the services is a way of doing things differently to secure the future of all 50 of the county’s libraries and hopefully continue the growth in visitor numbers.”

Libraries Unlimited will be managed by a Chief Executive and led by a Board of Trustees made of library staff, library Friends Groups and members of the public.