UK library visits fall by 7.5 million

Protest in Doncaster about library service changes More than 400 public libraries are threatened with closure, campaigners say

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The number of visits to UK libraries has continued to fall, dropping by more than 7.5 million to 314.55 million in 2010-2011, annual figures show.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy data, covering the year to 31 March 2011, shows a drop in the number of static and mobile public libraries from 4,612 to 4,579.

And they show a 2.9% drop in the number of book loans to 300.22 million.

Campaigners say more than 400 public libraries are threatened with closure.

A number of local councils plan to close them to save money after being given a 27% cut in central government funding over four years.

Sales down

The figures show a drop of 22.77 million over five years in the number of visits to UK libraries to 314.55 million in 2010-2011.

That figure represents a 6.7% drop.

The total number of books held by libraries dropped by about a million from the previous year to 98.24 million while there was also a drop in the stock of CDs, DVDs and other materials.

There was, however, a rise of about 300,000 in the number of loans of children's fiction books - to 81.57 million.

And there was an increase of about 180,000 - to 17.65 million - in the number of children's fiction books available for loan.

The number of visits to library websites, meanwhile, fell from 120.4 million in 2009-2010 to 114.77 million in 2010-2011 despite rises in previous years.

Last month, campaigners launched an appeal against a High Court decision to allow the closure of six libraries in north-west London by Brent Council.

Earlier this month, the court ruled the council could go ahead with the plans to save £100m.

Meanwhile, figures from Nielsen BookScan data suggest that sales of printed books in October fell 7% from the same month last year.

Sales of biographies and memoirs - including those written by celebrities - were down 43% on October 2010.

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