Li­brary vis­its drop in just five years


FOOT­FALL across Glas­gow’s li­braries has seen an over­all de­cline from 2015 to 2019 ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures. A Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion (FOI) re­quest re­vealed that 2015 saw 5,076,771 vis­its to the lo­cal li­brary com­pared to 4,780,031 in 2019.

This was how­ever, a three per cent in­crease from the year be­fore which saw 4,633,288 li­brary vis­its with 5,088,418 and 5,045,552 vis­its in 2017 and 2016 re­spec­tively.

Rea­sons be­hind this could be be­cause the way peo­ple use their li­braries is chang­ing. Some will also of­fer a va­ri­ety of ser­vices which ap­peal to the pub­lic.

Bar­mul­loch Com­mu­nity Hub, at Wal­lacewell Quad­rant which in­cludes a li­brary, saw an in­crease in num­bers from 93,566 in 2015 to 122,834 in 2019.

The cen­tre of­fers an in­te­grated pro­vi­sion where users can ben­e­fit from both fa­cil­i­ties and al­lows the li­brary to of­fer pro­vi­sion to a larger au­di­ence, util­is­ing the avail­able space of the com­mu­nity cen­tre. The num­ber of peo­ple who vis­ited the li­brary alone in 2015 sat at 52,945.

The Mitchell Li­brary also saw a rise in at­ten­dees from 492,887 in 2015 to 526,064 in 2019.

As part of Glas­gow Li­braries’ in­for­ma­tion strat­egy, The Mitchell has con­tin­ued to de­velop its in­for­ma­tion of­fer in re­cent years.

This has in­cluded a successful part­ner­ship with Google, which brought its Google Dig­i­tal Garage to Glas­gow for the first time in 2018, and the open­ing of Scot­land’s first Busi­ness In­tel­lec­tual

Prop­erty Cen­tre in part­ner­ship with the Bri­tish Li­brary in 2019.

Sig­nif­i­cant re­fur­bish­ment works at Castlemilk, Car­don­ald and Partick li­braries dur­ing 2018 and 2019 also im­pacted on vis­i­tor num­bers for those years.

A spokesman for Glas­gow Life said: “Glas­gow Li­braries at­tracted 4.78m vis­i­tors in 2019, which in­cluded more than 1m vir­tual vis­its, re­flect­ing a 3.2 per cent in­crease year-on-year. Glas­gow is home to Scot­land’s largest pub­lic li­brary ser­vice.

“The way in which peo­ple in­ter­act with their lo­cal li­brary has changed sig­nif­i­cantly over the past decade, largely as a re­sult of emerg­ing dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies.

“Recog­nis­ing this, and re­spond­ing to a na­tional de­cline in tra­di­tional li­brary use, Glas­gow Life pub­lished a com­pre­hen­sive Vi­sion for Glas­gow Li­braries in 2015.

“Fol­low­ing de­tailed re­search and con­sul­ta­tion with more than 3,000 peo­ple – which has en­sured the city’s vi­tal, life-chang­ing li­brary net­work re­mains in­te­gral to the needs of the peo­ple of Glas­gow, [we] will de­liver a mod­ern, vi­brant and com­mu­nity-fo­cused ser­vice for years to come.”

So far this has in­cluded the roll out of free wi-fi and PC ac­cess, the in­tro­duc­tion of self-ser­vice fa­cil­i­ties and a more re­spon­sive de­sign to Glas­gow Life’s on­line cat­a­logue and web­site.

Other steps in­clude the colo­ca­tion of es­sen­tial ser­vices such as the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau, devel­op­ment of an in­for­ma­tion strat­egy and fur­ther devel­op­ment of long-stand­ing health part­ner­ship with Macmil­lan can­cer sup­port, which is now avail­able across all Glas­gow Li­braries.

Glas­gow Li­braries of­fers a range of learn­ing and devel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, such as dig­i­tal learn­ing classes and a book­bug event.

The spokesman con­tin­ued: “Glas­gow Life re­mains com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing and de­liv­er­ing world-class li­brary and in­for­ma­tion ser­vices and in­spir­ing a love of reading, learn­ing and dis­cov­ery city-wide.”

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