Report urges library leaders to address decline in public library usage stats

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Report urges library leaders to address decline in public library usage stats

May 06 2021

In a report published this week, veteran London-based bookseller, library advocate, and former Waterstones managing director Tim Coates warns that U.S. public library usage statistics show a steep decline—and he suggests that library leaders must do more to address the trend.

“In the U.S. there has been a fall of 31% in public library building use over eight years, up to 2018,” Coates writes in the Freckle Report 2021, concluding that a “continuous decline of this nature,” which includes drops in both gate counts and physical circulation, “shows that the public library service ignores the figures it does have and does not strive to find the figures it should have.”

In addition to the 31% decline in library building use cited in the U.S., Coates reports a 22% drop over 10 years in Australia, and a stunning 70% decline in the U.K. since the year 2000.

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