Book to the future
A new analysis of internal library data over the past decade has shown that people are using libraries for more than just borrowing books.
Career builders, health detectives, little learners, friend finders, and research sleuths are the new ‘super-users’ of Britain’s public libraries.
The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) have today unveiled the new ‘super-users’ of Britain’s public libraries (click here for the report). After an analysis of internal library data spanning the last ten years, the SCL have identified and profiled the five main users of libraries. The results show that libraries are no longer just seen as places that lend books, but as providers of multiple and wide-ranging services in local communities.
It follows a report by CIPFA which showed that library staff are second only to doctors in terms of the trust placed on them by seekers of information.
The five main super-users that have been identified are:
Career builders - people who use resources in their local libraries to write CVs, practice interviews in meeting rooms, and find out about self-improvement techniques. The 10 Keys to Success by John Bird was taken out 9,526 in the last 4 years.
Health detectives – people who search for information about a condition that they or a friend or relative might be suffering from. Last year 8.3 million books about health and personal development were lent. The most popular lends include Overcoming anxiety: a self-help guide by Helen Kennerley (lent 9,428 times) and Overcoming depression: a self-help guide by Paul Gilbert (lent 8,430 times).
Little learners – the five to ten year old users who are devouring books and keen to learn about the world around them. According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport , 72.7% of children have visited a library within the last 12 months. 79 million children’s books were lent last year, the most popular book being The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. According to Public Lending Right’s 2012 data, five children’s writers are among the Top 10 Most Borrowed Authors in UK libraries. These include Daisy Meadows (2nd) and Dame Jacqueline Wilson (4th, and also the UK’s most borrowed author of the last ten years, with at least a million borrows every year).
Friend finders – people who are, often for the first time in their lives, experiencing isolation. Whether they have lost their jobs or suffered a change in their family life, they come to use libraries as a way of meeting other people face to face in their communities. Thirteen libraries across Staffordshire run weekly “Knit and Natter” groups and it is estimated that there are over 10,000 reading groups across the UK.
Research sleuths – people who are keen to learn more about their family’s past or their local community. Often retirees, the sleuth accesses information about ancestry, local politics, and issues that are relevant to them. In Q1 of 2012/13, 16.3% of adults had visited a library website in the last 12 months, a significant increase from 8.9% in 2005/06. 76.6% of these people had searched and viewed online information.
The research has been endorsed by organisations like The Reading Agency.
Commenting on the research Janene Cox, the new President of the Society of Chief Librarians, who commissioned the research said:
“‘I think that this research really demonstrates the vital role that the library service plays within local communities today. It evidences how that role has changed and developed from something which was quite passive into a service which is now dynamic and interactive.
“Communities are engaging with our services in lots of different ways and for lots of different reasons but what is very clear is that the service which they receive is hugely valued and the experience quite unique.
“Going forward this research will form an vital role in demonstrating the multiple roles of libraries to local authorities.”
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP said:
“If anyone doubts the value of libraries to local communities, they should read this report. It is very interesting to take such a close look at some of the different ways that people use their libraries. Hopefully library authorities will use this knowledge to help them to provide a wide range of valuable services.”
Miranda McKearney, OBE, Director of The Reading Agency a charity who work alongside the SCL developing reading programmes says:
“SCL’s research findings show the powerful social benefits libraries bring to their communities. No wonder the public feel so strongly about them! We hope the research will provide useful advocacy material at a time of great pressure. Libraries’ support for reading and literacy is changing and becoming far more dynamic as reading becomes more social and digital. We’re proud to be working alongside librarians to turn libraries into buzzing community hubs for readers, through our flagship programmes like the annual Summer Reading Challenge; this was part of the London 2012 Olympics Festival, when roughly 750,000 children took part.”
Notes to Editors:-
SCL’s “The New Super-Users of Britain’s Public Libraries” report can be found here.
For further information and enquiries please contact Emily Hamilton at Westbourne Communications on Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 3397 0146 or 07828 501877 (evenings & weekends).