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09Feb

Library use plummeted in 2021, but e-visits showed 18% rise during lockdown

Covid-19 has caused a steep decline in visitors and income, but an increase in digital visits shows libraries continue to be valued, says Cipfa CEO

The number of in-person visits to public libraries plummeted by 159m last year, as the pandemic forced branches to close around the country.

Annual figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) show physical library visits fell from 214.6m to 59.7m in the year to March 2021, a drop of 72%, as Covid-19 restrictions shut branches for much of the 12-month period. The closures also led to a major decline in the number of books borrowed by readers, with 72.9m books issued by libraries last year, down 56% from 165.9m in 2020.

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