CIPFA report: book spend decline slows

<p>The amount of money spent on books by public libraries was down 0.7% over the year to March 2007 to &pound;100.3m, according to the annual Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy figures, released this morning. The fall is less than that seen over the previous 12 months, when there was a 1.6% drop in money spent on books.</p><p>The latest figures also show that book stock in the UK&#39;s public libraries was down over the period to 103.2m from 104.9m, a fall of 1.6%, while book issues fell 2.6% to 314.7m from 323.1m.</p><p>Visits to libraries have fallen 1.4% to 337.3m over the past year. The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library in Norwich was the most visited in the country over the last year, with over 1.5m visits, ahead of Birmingham Central Library, Manchester Central Library and Croydon Central Library.</p><p>Julian Mund, director of operations at CIPFA, said: &quot;This survey illustrates clearly the major role libraries still play in the cultural life of our towns and cities. Whether they are used for borrowing books, films and music, doing research or using the internet, libraries are at the heart of our communities and need to be given the strongest support.&quot;</p><p>The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council said that the figures highlighted the &quot;massive popularity&quot; of public libraries, and their &quot;success in adapting to change in many places&quot;. But it added that delivery needs to &quot;continue to evolve to keep pace with social trends&quot; to ensure that a full range of services, including the book stock, can reach new users and a bigger proportion of the population.</p><p>MLA c.e.o. Roy Clare said: &quot;The best run library authorities make their money go a long way, building on the quality provision of traditional library services with innovative new ones. Today&#39;s statistics provide important information that library authorities can examine in order to compare their performance, learn from the best, and strive for excellence.&quot;</p>