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Library woe as members fall by six thousand in Burton

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

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THE number of people using Burton library has dropped by more than six thousand in the last five years, new figures have shown.

The drop has seen the total number of members at the Riverside facility reduce from 43,701 to 37,315, with the biggest drop between 2010 and 2012.

Numbers have also fallen at the library in Barton under Needwood, though not as sharply, dropping from 3,066 in 2008/9 to 2,732 in December 2013, when the latest information is available.

The figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, also show a reduction in the number of people jointing the two Staffordshire County Council-run libraries.

In 2013, 3,133 people joined Burton’s library, compared with 4,689 five years before.

The figure dropped by more than half in Barton, with 397 joining in 2008 and 191 last year.

The council acknowledged there had been a drop in numbers, and said a consultation was currently under way to help staff learn how people are using libraries.

Councillor Mike Lawrence, cabinet member for children, community and localism, said: “We recognise our communities are changing and the way that people want to access information has changed enormously in recent years.

“While we have seen a drop in the number of physical books being loaned out we have seen a huge increase in the popularity of e-books and e-magazines, and we expect this to continue.

“It is essential our library service evolves, so it is able to meet people’s needs today and into the future. We are looking at all options for the future of the library service, and our review will tell us what people want from a modern library service.”

When the Mail asked people in Burton about the relevance of libraries, many said they did not use the service, but they would be sad to see them disappear.

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