Published: October 21, 2011
by ANDREW JOHNSON
LIBRARY users go to the branch nearest their home and mainly do so to borrow books. This is the major finding from a consultation into the future of Islington’s libraries presented to the Town Hall’s ruling executive last night (Thursday).
As the Tribune reported exclusively two weeks ago, the council is planning a major overhaul of the library service – short of the political hot potato of closing branches – as it grapples with a £600,000 cut to the service.
Plans mooted include closing branches on alternate days, winding down the use of CDs and introducing self-service machines.
The consultation of library users -– there were 2,204 replies – ran between June and July.
Its key findings were that 64 per cent of respondents used the library at least once a week, and a further 26 per cent once a month.
The report adds that three quarters – 75 per cent – choose the nearest library to their home to visit, rather than for facilities and “the most popular activity that people did on their last visit to the library was borrowing books or talking books (82 per cent)”. Borrowing CDs or DVDs is the second most popular activity (45 per cent) with reading newspapers, magazines and journals third (32 per cent).
Asked what they wanted to see in the future, 89 per cent of people said a wide range of books was most important to them. The second most important factor was having a library that was easy to get to (86 per cent).
Having a self-service check-in was the least important service.
The most popular suggestion for cutting costs was reducing opening hours, but tailoring them to when people use libraries the most, sharing some services with neighbouring boroughs, increasing fines and using volunteers – although only half the people who suggested this were prepared to be volunteers themselves.
The least popular suggestions were spending less on new books, closing libraries and reducing the number of library staff.