The case for the importance of libraries to children's reading is backed up by the latest library loan figures released by the Public Lending Right (PLR), which show children's authors dominant among the most borrowed writers.
Seven of the 10 most borrowed authors in the year from July 2009 to June 2010 were children's writers, with the Daisy Meadows brand, Jacqueline Wilson and Francesca Simon leading the field. This is the second year running children's authors have taken seven of the top 10.
Children's authors have been rising steadily up the top ranks since 2005–06, when only four featured in the top 10. The rise matches the increase in children's library borrowing, following reader development work focused on children.
Julia Donaldson, whose book The Gruffalo was the most borrowed children's title over the year, said: "This just shows how much children need, and are entitled to, libraries and librarians. It's how they find out which books they like best and
develop a love of reading."
There is no change at the top, with thriller writer James Patterson remaining the UK's single most borrowed author for a fourth year running. His popularity is building year on year, with his total loans standing at over two million loans, compared to 1.8 million for 2008–09 and 1.5 million the year before.
Patterson also dominates the list of top 10 fiction titles borrowed, with four titles, including the single most borrowed fiction title, Swimsuit, which was borrowed 86,342 times. All of the top 10 fiction titles borrowed in 2009–10 were crime and thriller books.
The single most borrowed non-fiction title, At My Mother's Knee by Paul O'Grady, was loaned 37,422 times.
The future administration of Public Lending Right remains undecided. Registrar Jim Parker said that ministers were still committed to abolishing the PLR organisation and transferring its duties to another body, but had confirmed that for legal reasons the work cannot go to a private sector body such as the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS). "There is no decision yet, but it will to go a public body within the DCMS [Department for Culture, Media & Sport]."