Entertainment & Arts

UK library visits fall by 7.5 million

Image caption More than 400 public libraries are threatened with closure, campaigners say

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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