On April 10, philanthropic organisation, The Carnegie UK Trust, revealed the results of a new report that may offer cause for concern and reason for hope for the UK and Ireland’s public library service.
The findings follow a five-year study comparing library use data from 2011 and 2016.
There has been a drop in how often people are using their local library, but there are some interesting trends emerging across the country.
Wales is only one of two areas where the level of library use has risen since 2011, with more than half of users aged between 15-24, challenging the stereotypes of who uses libraries.
Library usage has grown amongst young people in Wales, with a significant jump in library use in households with pre-schoolers and primary-aged children.
Another interesting trend is that library use has risen in the most and least deprived economic groups.
Martyn Evans, chief executive of Carnegie UK Trust said: “Public libraries remain an immensely popular civic resource. 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.
“We also know that the public want libraries to do even more. People in Wales told us that they would be more likely to use the library if they could access more council services there, if libraries held more events, and if they had better information about the activities on offer.”
Kathryn Parry, development manager, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Wales, said: “We welcome the news that public libraries’ outreach and audience development programmes such as the Summer Reading Challenge and ‘ECALM’ (Every Child a Library Member) are having a real effect in Wales.”