There has been a ‘significant reduction’ in the number of people using Nottinghamshire’s libraries – but there are no plans to close services.
Councillors raised concerns about the future of libraries in the county during the Communities Committee meeting on November 3.
Libraries were closed during the lockdown but reopened in April 2021. Many offered online services.
In last week’s budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised large sums to “renovate, restore and revive” public libraries.
Councillor Elizabeth Williamson (Ind) said: “I am pleased that our opening hours have been extended post Covid – but concerned about the problem of physical visits to our libraries. With 112,087 physical visits to our libraries, I have worries that our library estate may not be fit for purpose as more and more residents go online.
“Will this council do a future report into increasing footfall in our libraries and look at bringing more services into our libraries and events?”
Derek Higton, Service Director, Transformation and Change and Service Director, Place and Communities, responded: “Absolutely, we are seeing a significant reduction in physical visits to libraries.
“Our assessment is that it is in part due to the fact that we’re still in the act of reopening all of our 58 libraries across the county.
“In Nottinghamshire, our visit numbers have been largely stable.
“There is concern amongst a number of library users, despite our libraries being Covid safe, about visiting those kind of facilities.
“In Nottinghamshire our return to normal operating is notably quicker than in many other parts of the country.”
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle (Lab) added that he hoped Mr Higton would “fight for libraries to remain open”.
Mr Higton responded: “I suspect I am not breaking any confidence to say that the current administration is absolutely committed to retaining the current network of physical libraries.”
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