The number of people visiting public libraries in NSW is at an all-time high with internet and online usage going through the roof, according to the latest statistics released by the State Library of NSW.
“Public library visits and loans continue to rise at an impressive rate, but it is free WiFi usage, virtual visits and, surprisingly, non-traditional library services that are delivering the most staggering results,” says NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive, Alex Byrne.
Physical visits to over 360 public libraries across NSW have increased by 30% since 2000, with 35 million visits recorded for 2013/14. Loans are up 5% with 45 million loans recorded last year.
“Public libraries are to be congratulated on introducing more adventurous and quirky programming to their diverse offering of existing library services, with a 40% increase in attendance recorded since 2008 - 1,538,019 people participated in over 67,000 programs in 2013/14,” said Dr Byrne.
Internet use and online services have experienced extremely high growth over a short period. Virtual visits to public library websites grew by 3 million to 12 million between 2012/13 and 2013/14. And onsite Internet usage has doubled between 2009/10 and 2013/14 to 7.8 million sessions, largely due to free WiFi offered by libraries where people can use their own devices.
Guyra Shire Librarian Aimee Burey said that· locally, visits are up approximately 3% in the last 6 months. The library now has 1410 members, 99 more that this time last year.
Internet use has remained relatively the same since last year with an average of 310 people visiting each month to use the public computers.
“Since January 2015 we have had 219 more visitors than the previous 6 months,” she said. “On average we have approximately 1,400 visitors each month.”
The library is popular with all age groups and is the hub for a number of groups who meet there on a regular basis. A popular attraction is Storytime which is held every Monday at 11am (except school holidays).
Aimee has been actively working to increase participation and numbers are up by 21%. Since January 2015, 50 extra children have participated compared to the previous six month period. Over 100 children visited the library recently to participate in the National Simultaneous Storytime.
Other regular activities are the knitting group which meets each Thursday and a family history group which meets on Wednesdays from 10am.