Children’s use of public libraries in the UK declines significantly
This looks like a trend, not a fluke.
According to this
called “Taking Part 2014/15 Annual Child Report”, there have been significant declines in children in the UK using public libraries.
Here’s one of the stats:
“70 per cent of children aged 5-15 had visited a library in the last 12 months, a significant decrease on the 2008/09 figure of 75 per cent, and a similar proportion to 2013/14.”
5% may not seem like a lot, but that’s a big chunk.
Reading through the report, there are quite a few negative indicators.
The Guardian article
indicates that the number of public libraries during this period had fallen by 286, going from 3,428 to 3,142. What’s that percentage change? About 8.5%.
That may be the factor…there may simply have been fewer libraries for them to visit.
That’s good in the sense that it suggests that children don’t want to read any less than they did before.
It’s potentially bad, though, because they have fewer opportunities to do so.
That same article has a cartoon by England’s Children’s Laureate supporting libraries.
I’m a big believer in public libraries. I’ve said before that if the choice is between keeping schools open, or keeping public libraries (with literacy teachers in them and librarians) open, I’m going with the libraries.
I think “free range reading” is hugely important. I’m sure I’ve benefited by reading books from public libraries to which I would never have been guided in a school.
Now, it is possible that children are, to some extent, reading from other places. E-books could be part of that…free public domain titles, and yes,
and other “subsers” (subscription services).
I’m not finding clear recent data for the USA for number of libraries…although I have several sources indicating a reduction in budgets.
What do you think? Are children reading less? How important are public libraries? How good an indicator are they of children’s reading engagement? Did you ever read a book from a public library that you are sure you wouldn’t gotten in school? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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