Norfolk libraries enjoy massive visitor boost
Kim BriscoeCash-strapped families making the most of free events have helped to boost the number of visitors to Norfolk's libraries this year.From January to November this year, 5,045,355 people came through the doors of Norfolk County Council's 47 libraries and borrowed 5,882,222 books.Kim Briscoe
Cash-strapped families making the most of free events have helped to boost the number of visitors to Norfolk's libraries this year.
From January to November this year, 5,045,355 people came through the doors of Norfolk County Council's 47 libraries and borrowed 5,882,222 books.
Both figures are up on the same period for 2008, which saw 4,918,827 people visiting the county's libraries and 5,848,705 books loaned out.
At a time when there is concern nationally about the use of library services, Norfolk's have proved more popular than in any recent year, with nearly 200,000 more visitors in 2009 than in 2005.
Derrick Murphy, the council's cabinet member for cultural services, said: 'The enduring and increasing popularity of our libraries is a credit to the excellent staff who run them.
'I'd like to thank every one of them for their efforts this year and for putting local libraries at the heart of the community.
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'The secret to the success of our libraries is that they are continuing to modernise and evolve in response to what people want them to be.
'A lot of work has been going on to make people aware that libraries are not only a means of borrowing books for free but also use PCs and the internet at no cost, take advantage of free or low-cost events, activities and courses and hire DVDs, CDs and console games.'
The council believes people placing more emphasis on receiving value for money during the recession may have also helped boost the county's libraries' success this year, and staff have noticed an increase in people coming along to the free events held in libraries, particularly family activities such as baby bounce and rhyme times.
Mr Murphy said: 'Libraries are run for the benefit of local people because they are paid for by local people, to be precise at a cost of 4.2 pence a day for each Norfolk resident. We try very hard to give taxpayers value for money with the services we provide and these figures suggest we are on the right track.'
It has been a particularly successful year for many of Norfolk's libraries. Wymondham Library, which opened in November 2008, was visited by HRH The Princess Royal this year and has also won a clutch of awards for its design.
The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library at The Forum was named as the UK's most popular library for the number of visitors and items issued and it unveiled a new-look ground floor with 10 self-service machines.
Great Yarmouth Community Library reopened with a fresh new look, while Attleborough Library celebrated its 50th birthday and Earlham Library reached its 80th birthday.
It is free to join a Norfolk library, and borrowing books and magazines, and access to email and the internet are all free.
DVDs, videos and console games can also all be borrowed from libraries across the county for a small cost.
To find out more, visit your local library or log onto www.libraries.norfolk.gov.uk.