Headlines: January 8th, 2008

Wales, which already has the highest proportion of active members of public libraries in the UK, has begun a campaign to drive up membership by offering incentives to existing users to promote libraries to their friends and families. A quarter of people in Wales are members but research by libraries has found that about 70 per cent of them go to the library at least once a week.

The promotional campaign will run for the rest of January in each of the country’s 332 public libraries. Existing members will get the chance to complete a form recommending a friend to join their local library in order for both of them to be entered into a draw. Prizes include a TV chef cooking in the winner’s home and a romantic weekend in a teepee in the Welsh mountains.

The ‘Libraries for Life’ campaign is being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the Minister for Heritage, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, said the competition was part of a wider marketing campaign running across Wales alongside an extensive programme of refurbishment projects. “Although people in Wales value their libraries more than in any other part of the UK, not everyone knows about this excellent range of services,” he said.

Jane Purdie, the marketing project officer for the campaign, said they had taken a lead from the retail sector in planning the promotion. “Library users across Wales make 14.5 million visits to the library each year and we hope this promotion will give them the incentive they need to spread the word to friends and family, and, as a result, increase library membership across Wales,” she added.