Are our public libraries being forgotten? Despite well documented protests over library closures, new research reveals that we are still not visiting our libraries.
New research showing that 60% of us never use our local library these days. The study by Bookmark Your Library found that:
Almost half of those surveyed state that libraries aren't needed as much as they were a decade ago due to technological advances
Almost three quarters of us have been to our local library at some point in our lives, but on average the last time we visited our local library was 17 months ago.
In years gone by, the local library was much loved by all generations from children and students to parents and grandparents, but now it seems the biggest driving force is being a parent:
14% saying they last visited their library to encourage their child into reading
8% went to help a child with a school project
And despite libraries across the country having to change with the times and offer new services, these changes appear to be unknown to a large proportion of us - including reading groups, genealogy services and music rental.
When asked how people would feel if their local library shut down...
One in five admitted they would be very disappointed
One in ten said it would be a loss to the local community
People gathered outside of the Moorside Library in Newcastle in the hope that councillors would find a way to keep it open. The library is under threat because of council cuts. A final decision will be made at a cabinet meeting on 25th February.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller should step in to prevent the "cultural catastrophe" being caused by library closures in areas including Liverpool and Newcastle, author and broadcaster Baroness Bakewell has said.
"The bad news is coming in torrents: 326 libraries are under threat, closed or have left council control since April of last year."
Newcastle is planning to close 10 of 18, Liverpool 10 of 19."
– Baroness Bakewell
The Labour peer urged the Government to take action to stop local authorities cutting down on their library provision.
Lord Gardiner said he took the points "very seriously indeed" and said local authorities had a legal duty to provide a "comprehensive and efficient library service".
"Given the disproportionately heavy cuts to local authority funding in the north of England when will the secretary of state use her considerable reserve powers to stop this cultural catastrophe?"
– Baroness Bakewell
He said in 2011-12 authorities had invested £820 million in their libraries and the closure of a library did not necessarily signify a breach of the legal duty.
"It is important that local authorities reflect on what is the local need," he said.
He made his name through his writing, as the creator of Billy Elliot, but Lee Hall indicated he is ready to move from words to actions to save ten Newcastle libraries earmarked for closure.
The playwright had people on their feet at a campaign meeting when he called for protesters to occupy libraries.
However, the council says it simply cannot afford to keep the libraries going, because of budget cuts.
Meanwhile in Middlesbrough, councillors discussed whether they can afford to freeze council tax. The mayor Ray Mallon opposes the proposal, saying it would leave a black hole in the council's finances.