Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 10°C

Search

The pigs have arrived. See the latest

Pigs Gone Wild

news here.

Suffolk: Book borrowing declines but county’s libraries start a new chapter

11:44 22 March 2014

Book borrowing at Suffolk

Book borrowing at Suffolk's libraries is dwindling but e-book borrowing is rapidly increasing

Archant

Book borrowing from Suffolk’s libraries has fallen by the equivalent of almost 2,000 a day over the past two years, the EADT can disclose.

Thurston Library:

Richard Fawcett, chairman of the Friends of Thurston Library, explained he enjoyed giving back to the community.

“The library is part of the community which provides a wider concept of learning other than books and computers,” he said. “It is a welcoming place in which people feel comfortable, but has changed from a completely book-use only service. I think we were the first library to have free Wi-fi and e-readers have an extended role with computers.

“But it is a very positive story in terms of libraries in Suffolk. It is certainly the case they play a much bigger role in communities, which is very welcome following the possible picture of library closures.”

But library bosses have united in defence of the “important community hubs”, arguing they play an increasingly vital role in rural areas and provide a positive social and learning experience for families, students and older people.

They insisted Suffolk’s libraries are not under threat, but urged people not to take them for granted.

The backing comes after new findings showed the number of books borrowed from libraries in the county has fallen by around 350,000 in each of the last two years. It dropped from 3,925,216 in 2010/11 to 3,236,652 in 2012/13.

It means that around 10,800 books were loaned out every day in Suffolk three years ago, compared to 8,900 last year – some 1,900 fewer. Average daily visits also fell, from around 9,870 three years ago to 9,250 last year.

The latest research, seen by the EADT, also showed the number of people borrowing books slumped by 22% in the same two-year period, from 127,409 to 99,188.

But Alison Wheeler, general manager of Suffolk Libraries, said that although libraries have had to change a “great deal” in recent years to offer a greater range of services and activities, they are in a “genuinely strong position” than when all 44 of the county’s libraries were transferred from Suffolk County Council control in August 2012.

Suffolk’s libraries are now part of an Industrial and Provident Society, a not-for-profit, independent and charitable organisation set up in August 2012 to run the service.

The deal, the first of its kind in the country, saved 29 branches threatened by proposed cuts. Mrs Wheeler insisted there were no immediate plans to close any branches or cut staff. She insisted the service and opening times of libraries have not been cut despite facing a squeezed budget of £2million less than two years ago.

She explained that while traditional library use is changing, the focus must be placed on the opportunities rather than “doom and gloom”.

She said: “The modern library service is much more than the borrowing of physical books; it’s about older people meeting up together, families learning together, social networking, people using facilities to find employment and study. It has changed a lot from 20, and even 10, years ago.

“We have 44 support groups after winning the battle to keep our libraries. But we must not be complacent. Libraries have got to raise their profile in the community, and we are reaching out even more than before. They cannot be taken for granted.

“We have a huge army of volunteers. They have not replaced paid staff; they augment the service. They are the beating heart of the library experience.”

And while she admitted the target for the number of physical books being loaned is to never dip below the three million mark, she argued there are many more varied measures to gauge the general health of libraries.

She said their “stable situation” is being strengthened with an increasing range of services and activities, with the service being run as “efficiently as possible”.

“We are just as committed to the physical book, and although there could be a wider selection and fewer copies, we have to think about the future.”

1 comment

  • i hope those channels the bookshelfs are standing on are fixed to the bookshelfs.

    Report this comment

    TERENCE MANNING

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spectators enjoying a rainy Ipswich Music Day in 2015.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Christchurch Park this weekend for one of the most celebrated events in Ipswich’s summer calendar.

Two vehicles have collided in Wickhambrook.

A woman has sustained a minor head injury during a two-vehicle crash in west Suffolk tonight.

Rogue trader fined

A internet rogue trader has been told to pay nearly £51,000 for selling unsafe medical equipment and children’s scooters from his Ipswich warehouse.

Rudimental were at Thetford last night

Two years ago Rudimental were performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury when it was powered down because an electrically charged storm was exploding overhead.

Traffic lights at Wherstead Road bridge caused chaos.

Network Rail’s top manager in East Anglia has issued an unreserved apology after engineers working for his company brought Ipswich town centre to a standstill on Thursday evening.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.

Help is needed to trace a man who approached a teenage girl as she walked home in Ipswich.

Pigs Gone Wild sculptures being delivered to the streets of Ipswich

This week Suffolk has seen pigs pop up around town, James May officially unveil a new motorcycle museum and ITFC begin their pre-season training. To catch up on all the latest, watch this week’s news in video.

Centennial commemoration of the start of the battle of the Somme at Long Melford War Memorial at Holy Trinity Church.

The great-nephew of a Long Melford soldier who fought at the Battle of the Somme described the “humbling” experience of blowing on the same whistle his ancestor used to send men over the top.

East of England Ambulance Service attended the crash.

Police and ambulance crews attended a two-vehicle crash this afternoon.

Faulkeners Way, in Trimley

Police want to trace a man with a blond quiff who pulled up alongside a 10-year-old boy in black panel van and spoke to him outside a play area in Trimley St Mary.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24