Library use up in Wales

A major new study published by the Carnegie UK Trust claims more young people in Wales are now using public libraries than they were five years ago.

The research reveals that more than half (51%) of all 15-24 year olds now use public libraries in Wales, an increase of nine percentage points since 2011. Meanwhile more than half of 25-34 year olds are also now using public libraries.

Overall, there has been a slight increase in public library use in Wales from 45% to 46% between 2011 and 2016. Across the other UK nations, Northern Ireland has also seen its library use go up, but there have been declines in England and Scotland.

Alongside the growth in library usage amongst young people in Wales, there has also been a significant jump in library use is amongst households with pre-schoolers and primary-aged children.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of Carnegie UK Trust says that libraries must make a persuasive case for continued investment in staff and services if they are to continue to meet the needs of local communities:

“Public libraries remain an immensely popular civic resource, both in Wales and across the rest of the UK and it’s extremely promising that there’s been a rise in library use in Wales amongst households with pre-school and primary children, as well as young people.

“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. All of us who value libraries’ rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.”

Kathryn Parry, Development Manager, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Wales, said:

“We welcome the specific focus on public libraries in Wales in the ‘Shining a Light’ report alongside the wider picture for the rest of the UK. The Welsh Government has set a specific objective to target poverty and inequality in Wales, so it is really powerful to see genuine evidence of the vital role Librarians and Library assistants play in the lives of the most deprived socio-economic groups.”

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