Headlines: March 10th, 2009

There was a record rise in the number of people accessing library services via the Internet, according to new figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Museums and Libraries Archive Council. Their latest survey showed there was a 20 per cent rise in Internet customers during 2007-08.

The rise took the total number of web visits to libraries to more than 76 million with people using the system for everything from renewing their book borrowing and catalogue enquiries to searching reference material research and getting information on forthcoming events.

For the second year in succession the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library was the most popular in the UK according to the CIPFA figures. It topped the tables of both the number of visits – 1,500,695 – and for the number of books issued, which reached 1,139,090. Birmingham Central Library had the second highest number of visits with more than 1.3 million and Chelmsford Library issued almost three quarters of a million books to finish second in that list.

Julian Mund, CIPFA’s Director of Operations said Norfolk and Norwich’s success showed libraries were still a vital resource and greatly valued by the community. “The rise in internet access of library services is proof that libraries are moving with the times and making information available to millions of customers in a way that would not have been possible a few years ago,” he added. Roy Clare, the Chief Executive of the MLA, said local authorities across England were investing in library services with recent announcements of substantial schemes in Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham as well as other examples of libraries opening and new services being provided in smaller towns and cities.