There’s no doubt that people in the UK value libraries. They are seen as an asset to communities, offering a calm, quiet, neutral space, where anyone can access information for work or leisure. When libraries are threatened with closure, community groups and public figures spring into action to try to save them. But while we clearly hold libraries close to our hearts, how many of us actually use them?
Fewer and fewer, it seems: in the five years to 2013/14 (the last period for which data is publically available) the number of visits to public libraries fell by 12.4% to 282m. This decrease was mainly the result of fewer people using them, demonstrated by the fact that the proportion of adults who had visited a library in the previous 12 months fell by 10.2%.