Scotland has the highest level of public library use in the UK, according to researchers.
A study by the Carnegie UK Trust and Ipsos Mori found rising numbers of families in Scotland with primary school age children, occasional readers and those who are “just about managing financially” are using libraries.
Exactly half of interviewees in Scotland said they have been to a library in the past year, meaning the country keeps the top spot in the UK despite having the sharpest drop – 11 percentage points – since 2011. The five-year study involving 1,000 participants in Scotland found that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) said the facilities were important for their communities and 37 per cent said they were important for them personally.
Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of families with children aged five to 11 visited libraries last year, up 3 per cent on 2011.
A total of 61 per cent of people in the second lowest socio- economic classification reported using a library at least once a month, while the number of occasional readers – those who read a book every two or three months – rose by eight percentage points to just under 60 per cent in 2016.
The report also found that the vast majority (82 per cent) was against replacing all library employees with paid staff, while 58 per cent favour the use of volunteers with existing employees.
The trust has made a series of recommendations including that libraries make better use of data, provide more personalised services, share ideas and successful projects better and have innovation and leadership training for staff.
Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “It’s extremely promising that there’s been a rise in library use in Scotland among households with primary school aged children, as well as an increase in frequent use among a key socio-economic group.
“However, we know that the future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to the changing needs of their communities. Local authority budgets are under severe pressure. All of us who value libraries’ rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.”
Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at the Scottish Library and Information Council, said: “We need to ensure that libraries continue to prosper.”