Big drop in lending after library axe

First published in News

THE controversial closure of five Bolton libraries has led to a massive drop in borrowing across the borough.

Bolton Council axed a third of its 15 libraries between January and April this year — Astley Bridge, Oxford Grove, Heaton, Highfield, and Castle Hill — to save £407,000 as part of a wider £60 million package of spending cuts.

Now, the first council report published on the impact of the closures has been submitted to the Government and has revealed that borrowing fell by almost a fifth.

The report revealed that borrowing from Bolton’s libraries fell by 19 per cent between April and September, compared to the same period in 2011, while the number of library visitors fell by 14 per cent.

The closures brought a storm of criticism and protests from residents and trade unions, as well as from author Philip Pullman and comedian Dave Spikey.

To offset the impact of the closures, the council brought in measures such as extra opening hours, a new online inquiry service, the Ask Bolton Libraries inquiry service and five neighbourhood book collection points.

Town Hall bosses said visitor and borrowing figures were falling nationally and, although borrowing and visitor numbers are down, the remaining 10 libraries have seen only small like-for-like drops in use compared to last year.

Visitors at the remaining libraries fell by one per cent and loans by three per cent.

The number of people using computers in Bolton libraries has decreased by three per cent overall since the closures, but the 10 remaining libraries have seen a nine per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris said: “Reorganising the library network was a difficult and controversial task and one we were reluctant to carry out.

“However, faced with cuts of £60 million over two years, we had to look at savings of £400,000 from this service.

“We said at the start that we would conduct reviews at six, 12 and 18 months to establish just how successful we had been at limiting any negative impact.”

The council said opening neighbourhood collection points and extending opening hours had proved popular, with an extra 13,000 visitors to the Central Library in the town centre between April and September.

Of that number, 8,000 people borrowed from the library and nearly 3,000 hours were spent on the computers.

The number of children borrowing from the Central Library increased by 17 per cent and the Summer Reading Challenge — which is aimed at children and operates across the borough — saw an increase of 13 per cent in participants completing the six week programme.

Since the decision was announced, a group’s drive to fight the closures — the Save Bolton Libraries Campaign — has sought legal advice and sent a 30-page dossier to the Government.

Secretary Ian McHugh said: “We recognise Bolton Libraries are doing their best with the limited resources they are allowed and pleased to see the increased usage of Central Library and IT services.

“However, this cannot disguise the alarming drop off in visits and books loaned in such a short space of time.”

Comments (26)

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8:56am Fri 28 Dec 12

The Running Man says...

The council close several libraries and lending drops, how strange!

What did the council expect: an increase in bus usage, or maybe they expected the unavailability of services would encourage the immobile to regain their mobility?

Come on Cliff, what's your next little gem? I really can't wait for the New Year!
The council close several libraries and lending drops, how strange! What did the council expect: an increase in bus usage, or maybe they expected the unavailability of services would encourage the immobile to regain their mobility? Come on Cliff, what's your next little gem? I really can't wait for the New Year! The Running Man
  • Score: 0

9:51am Fri 28 Dec 12

oftbewildered2 says...

when I was a kid I 'haunted' the local library - my grandchildren spend a lot of time at their local library. What are the younger ones supposed to do when there is no local library? They can hardly get a bus and go into Bolton can they? A library is not just a place to borrow reading material - it is a community asset which opens all sorts of avenues of knowledge and exploration. There will be knock on effects from this travesty
when I was a kid I 'haunted' the local library - my grandchildren spend a lot of time at their local library. What are the younger ones supposed to do when there is no local library? They can hardly get a bus and go into Bolton can they? A library is not just a place to borrow reading material - it is a community asset which opens all sorts of avenues of knowledge and exploration. There will be knock on effects from this travesty oftbewildered2
  • Score: -1

10:22am Fri 28 Dec 12

fitz108 says...

When is bolton council going to catch up with the modern world an let you borrow books to read at home via the Internet as my daughter does in Devon
When is bolton council going to catch up with the modern world an let you borrow books to read at home via the Internet as my daughter does in Devon fitz108
  • Score: 1

1:53pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Reality50 says...

I was a regular library user at Marsh Lane and Highfield but both are now closed for good. The closure of the relatively new Highfield library was an utter scandal. I no longer use libraries as it costs £4.20p return on the bus to get either to Bolton or Farnworth.
I was a regular library user at Marsh Lane and Highfield but both are now closed for good. The closure of the relatively new Highfield library was an utter scandal. I no longer use libraries as it costs £4.20p return on the bus to get either to Bolton or Farnworth. Reality50
  • Score: 0

3:18pm Fri 28 Dec 12

stantheman133 says...

It doesn't take a genius to work out that if five libraries are closed there will be less lending.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that if five libraries are closed there will be less lending. stantheman133
  • Score: 1

4:14pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Horwich Observer says...

And the council had to pay an employee to write the report did they?

And the government have paid someone to read it.

Isn't that wasting more money seeing as a 12 year could work out that lending would be down when a third of the libraries have been closed down.

Pathetic.
And the council had to pay an employee to write the report did they? And the government have paid someone to read it. Isn't that wasting more money seeing as a 12 year could work out that lending would be down when a third of the libraries have been closed down. Pathetic. Horwich Observer
  • Score: 0

4:14pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Horwich Observer says...

And the council had to pay an employee to write the report did they?

And the government have paid someone to read it.

Isn't that wasting more money seeing as a 12 year could work out that lending would be down when a third of the libraries have been closed down.

Pathetic.
And the council had to pay an employee to write the report did they? And the government have paid someone to read it. Isn't that wasting more money seeing as a 12 year could work out that lending would be down when a third of the libraries have been closed down. Pathetic. Horwich Observer
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Fri 28 Dec 12

underwater says...

I was a regular user of Heaton library but only go under sufferance now. We have been reduced to a few shelves of books in the entrance foyer, while the rest of the building is usually full of hoards of brats who would be far better in there own homes.. Come on get rid of the Childrens Centre and give us our peacefull library back.
I was a regular user of Heaton library but only go under sufferance now. We have been reduced to a few shelves of books in the entrance foyer, while the rest of the building is usually full of hoards of brats who would be far better in there own homes.. Come on get rid of the Childrens Centre and give us our peacefull library back. underwater
  • Score: 0

7:16pm Fri 28 Dec 12

grimtown says...

Ground breaking journalism
Ground breaking journalism grimtown
  • Score: 0

8:15pm Fri 28 Dec 12

kamikazicowgirl says...

So the Council expect folk to 'Bus To Borrow' do they?
Ridiculous, unfortunately, this report will probably be used to show that local people do not want Libraries, so giving the excuse to close even more of them!
You just can't win!
So the Council expect folk to 'Bus To Borrow' do they? Ridiculous, unfortunately, this report will probably be used to show that local people do not want Libraries, so giving the excuse to close even more of them! You just can't win! kamikazicowgirl
  • Score: 0

9:07pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Citizen Cane says...

Has anyone missed the point that one-third of libraries have closed and borrowing is down by only a fifth? Basic arithmetic says that that is a good result and points to inefficiencies in the past.

The days of profligate public spending are over, except if you are a criminal, scrounger or other state sponsored hanger-on. THAT is the real reason why libraries closed. The people who actually pay for all of these services will eventually notice that they are getting nothing in return and the scroungers are laughing all the way to the bank.
Has anyone missed the point that one-third of libraries have closed and borrowing is down by only a fifth? Basic arithmetic says that that is a good result and points to inefficiencies in the past. The days of profligate public spending are over, except if you are a criminal, scrounger or other state sponsored hanger-on. THAT is the real reason why libraries closed. The people who actually pay for all of these services will eventually notice that they are getting nothing in return and the scroungers are laughing all the way to the bank. Citizen Cane
  • Score: 1

9:44pm Fri 28 Dec 12

GEJRM1 says...

We should all remember the council are having to make these decisions due to the reductions in budgets imposed on them. There is an argument that most areas should not be affected young, old, etc but due to the size of the cuts it is inevitable they are! The Conservatives are finally getting what they want.... The break up of the public sector, which they forget is what so many businesses in the private sector rely on, and our economy needs all the help it can get at the moment!
We should all remember the council are having to make these decisions due to the reductions in budgets imposed on them. There is an argument that most areas should not be affected young, old, etc but due to the size of the cuts it is inevitable they are! The Conservatives are finally getting what they want.... The break up of the public sector, which they forget is what so many businesses in the private sector rely on, and our economy needs all the help it can get at the moment! GEJRM1
  • Score: -1

12:09am Sat 29 Dec 12

Reality50 says...

Labour nearly bankrupted the country GEJRM1 so if you want to make it political then at least be accurate.
Labour nearly bankrupted the country GEJRM1 so if you want to make it political then at least be accurate. Reality50
  • Score: 1

2:00am Sat 29 Dec 12

ALI MINIUM KHAN says...

we are all doomed in Bolton
we are all doomed in Bolton ALI MINIUM KHAN
  • Score: 0

8:14am Sat 29 Dec 12

temujin says...

The most devastating impact on public libraries is not the cuts imposed by Central Government, or lack of budget in any sense. It is the ridiculous rise in the costs of English councils' central overheads which are charged to the library services. In 2011/ 12 we were expecting to see the first major year of Government cuts since the main purpose of Government became to cut the the annual operating deficit of all government departments. Councils were asked to find 28% cuts over three years, to be front loaded- so we anticipated that we would see cuts in library budgets of the order of 14% . In fact the staff budgets have been cut by 9%, Internet costs have been cut by 11% and the book fund has been cut by the same amount, 11% as well And yet at the same time the councils' overheads actually rose by a larger amount than they have risen in any year in the past decade. The amount charged to libraries rose from 13.6% percent of the cost of the library service to 14.7% : the councils' overheads are now £160m (and this does not include overheads within each library service, which will be of the same order, but is not shown by the latest CIPFA statistics
Everybody said that when making cuts, councils should protect the front line and look for savings in administration. The exact opposite has happened -- and it is wrong and unfair to those people who need them, to close libraries while this fundamental problem remains untackled by councils such as Bolton.
Other major savings in back office costs can be achieved by sharing service delivery between local authorities, as has been demonstrated by the Tri-Borough project in London. The Greater Manchester authorities need to put aside political differences and get on with this.
The failure of councils to protect the front line rather than the back office affects more services than libraries.
The most devastating impact on public libraries is not the cuts imposed by Central Government, or lack of budget in any sense. It is the ridiculous rise in the costs of English councils' central overheads which are charged to the library services. In 2011/ 12 we were expecting to see the first major year of Government cuts since the main purpose of Government became to cut the the annual operating deficit of all government departments. Councils were asked to find 28% cuts over three years, to be front loaded- so we anticipated that we would see cuts in library budgets of the order of 14% . In fact the staff budgets have been cut by 9%, Internet costs have been cut by 11% and the book fund has been cut by the same amount, 11% as well And yet at the same time the councils' overheads actually rose by a larger amount than they have risen in any year in the past decade. The amount charged to libraries rose from 13.6% percent of the cost of the library service to 14.7% : the councils' overheads are now £160m (and this does not include overheads within each library service, which will be of the same order, but is not shown by the latest CIPFA statistics Everybody said that when making cuts, councils should protect the front line and look for savings in administration. The exact opposite has happened -- and it is wrong and unfair to those people who need them, to close libraries while this fundamental problem remains untackled by councils such as Bolton. Other major savings in back office costs can be achieved by sharing service delivery between local authorities, as has been demonstrated by the Tri-Borough project in London. The Greater Manchester authorities need to put aside political differences and get on with this. The failure of councils to protect the front line rather than the back office affects more services than libraries. temujin
  • Score: 1

8:34am Sat 29 Dec 12

temujin says...

Citizen Cane wrote:
Has anyone missed the point that one-third of libraries have closed and borrowing is down by only a fifth? Basic arithmetic says that that is a good result and points to inefficiencies in the past.

The days of profligate public spending are over, except if you are a criminal, scrounger or other state sponsored hanger-on. THAT is the real reason why libraries closed. The people who actually pay for all of these services will eventually notice that they are getting nothing in return and the scroungers are laughing all the way to the bank.
The closed libraries accounted for 13% of borrowing, so a 20% drop is not a good result.
[quote][p][bold]Citizen Cane[/bold] wrote: Has anyone missed the point that one-third of libraries have closed and borrowing is down by only a fifth? Basic arithmetic says that that is a good result and points to inefficiencies in the past. The days of profligate public spending are over, except if you are a criminal, scrounger or other state sponsored hanger-on. THAT is the real reason why libraries closed. The people who actually pay for all of these services will eventually notice that they are getting nothing in return and the scroungers are laughing all the way to the bank.[/p][/quote]The closed libraries accounted for 13% of borrowing, so a 20% drop is not a good result. temujin
  • Score: 0

8:36am Sat 29 Dec 12

temujin says...

GEJRM1 wrote:
We should all remember the council are having to make these decisions due to the reductions in budgets imposed on them. There is an argument that most areas should not be affected young, old, etc but due to the size of the cuts it is inevitable they are! The Conservatives are finally getting what they want.... The break up of the public sector, which they forget is what so many businesses in the private sector rely on, and our economy needs all the help it can get at the moment!
Not so. It's the failure of the Council to control back office costs that's causing the problem.
[quote][p][bold]GEJRM1[/bold] wrote: We should all remember the council are having to make these decisions due to the reductions in budgets imposed on them. There is an argument that most areas should not be affected young, old, etc but due to the size of the cuts it is inevitable they are! The Conservatives are finally getting what they want.... The break up of the public sector, which they forget is what so many businesses in the private sector rely on, and our economy needs all the help it can get at the moment![/p][/quote]Not so. It's the failure of the Council to control back office costs that's causing the problem. temujin
  • Score: 0

2:08pm Sat 29 Dec 12

boltonnut says...

I agree with you oftbewildered2,I use my iocal library all the time.It is a place to socialize,get local info.also a place to take our younger grandchildren,they run very good programes for children of all ages,My wife has a kobo reader so she down loads most of her books wich suits her needs,I prefere the interaction of the local branch.We have a very good service where I live (not in the UK) and like many people in Bolton I would be very upset if local officials started shutting down local branches.
I agree with you oftbewildered2,I use my iocal library all the time.It is a place to socialize,get local info.also a place to take our younger grandchildren,they run very good programes for children of all ages,My wife has a kobo reader so she down loads most of her books wich suits her needs,I prefere the interaction of the local branch.We have a very good service where I live (not in the UK) and like many people in Bolton I would be very upset if local officials started shutting down local branches. boltonnut
  • Score: 0

4:55pm Sat 29 Dec 12

JustBecause says...

What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.
What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on. JustBecause
  • Score: 1

5:33pm Sat 29 Dec 12

temujin says...

JustBecause wrote:
What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.
Internet OK for information, news etc., but not for literature, history etc.

Still, the net is sufficient for the semi-literate, of whom there are now many.
[quote][p][bold]JustBecause[/bold] wrote: What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.[/p][/quote]Internet OK for information, news etc., but not for literature, history etc. Still, the net is sufficient for the semi-literate, of whom there are now many. temujin
  • Score: -1

8:24pm Sat 29 Dec 12

judyben says...

kamikazicowgirl wrote:
So the Council expect folk to 'Bus To Borrow' do they?
Ridiculous, unfortunately, this report will probably be used to show that local people do not want Libraries, so giving the excuse to close even more of them!
You just can't win!
This is just what crossed my mind when I read the article . Let's hope we are wrong. When my local library closed, I used Central a lot but go less and less often. For me it is because of the cost of bus fares and parking and the sheer drag of trying to shop and lug a bag of books around. The staff at the library in town and at Horwich are fantastic .Terrible that cuts had to be made in this way. We should be doing everything we can to encourage children to read.and to make books available to all!
[quote][p][bold]kamikazicowgirl[/bold] wrote: So the Council expect folk to 'Bus To Borrow' do they? Ridiculous, unfortunately, this report will probably be used to show that local people do not want Libraries, so giving the excuse to close even more of them! You just can't win![/p][/quote]This is just what crossed my mind when I read the article . Let's hope we are wrong. When my local library closed, I used Central a lot but go less and less often. For me it is because of the cost of bus fares and parking and the sheer drag of trying to shop and lug a bag of books around. The staff at the library in town and at Horwich are fantastic .Terrible that cuts had to be made in this way. We should be doing everything we can to encourage children to read.and to make books available to all! judyben
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Sat 29 Dec 12

judyben says...

JustBecause wrote:
What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.
There is a lot of tosh on the internet too. Access to the internet costs money. Not everyone can afford a PC or a Kindle (or equivalent). If you want to read a book (sorry if that is a shocking concept ) then a library is necessary for some. For people who can't read or use the internet due to visual impairment there is an excellent stock of Audio Books available through the Bolton libraries. Agree with you 100% ,Temujin.
[quote][p][bold]JustBecause[/bold] wrote: What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.[/p][/quote]There is a lot of tosh on the internet too. Access to the internet costs money. Not everyone can afford a PC or a Kindle (or equivalent). If you want to read a book (sorry if that is a shocking concept ) then a library is necessary for some. For people who can't read or use the internet due to visual impairment there is an excellent stock of Audio Books available through the Bolton libraries. Agree with you 100% ,Temujin. judyben
  • Score: -1

3:50pm Sun 30 Dec 12

harry white2 says...

regarding library closures saying less books are borrowed is like leaving the stable doors open and finding less horses.
even a complete thicko would realise what would happen.
bring back full opening hours.re-open the closed ones
didnt some mp say education ,education education.
lets have less grandiose schemes like shifting the bus station ,remember what the song says-------------chi
ldren are the future.
regarding library closures saying less books are borrowed is like leaving the stable doors open and finding less horses. even a complete thicko would realise what would happen. bring back full opening hours.re-open the closed ones didnt some mp say education ,education education. lets have less grandiose schemes like shifting the bus station ,remember what the song says-------------chi ldren are the future. harry white2
  • Score: 0

9:06am Mon 31 Dec 12

Boltonlass20 says...

JustBecause wrote:
What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.
It scares me that people like you think that the Internet can replace information professionals who can help guide people towards reliable and quality sources of information. Yes the Internet is a valuable tool but it isn't and will never be a the one and only source of information! Try using your local library information service and you'll see what hard work and expertise goes into the service.
[quote][p][bold]JustBecause[/bold] wrote: What a load of tosh, get with the times people, the Internet is now a global library, things move on.[/p][/quote]It scares me that people like you think that the Internet can replace information professionals who can help guide people towards reliable and quality sources of information. Yes the Internet is a valuable tool but it isn't and will never be a the one and only source of information! Try using your local library information service and you'll see what hard work and expertise goes into the service. Boltonlass20
  • Score: 0

11:26pm Wed 2 Jan 13

BWFC71 says...

Is Bolton Central Library open between 9am and 8pm Monday to Saturday?
Is Bolton Central Library open between 10am and 6pm on Sundays?
Do Bolton Library services operate a drop off and pick up mobile service?
What about investment in ALL publications from dailies to weeklies to Monthlies to up to date most recent books in any genre (within sense of course)

If not then its failing, as that what my local library offers to ALL its residents and my local library is the 2nd biggest in the country I live compared to Amsterdam's new library which is 1st!
Is Bolton Central Library open between 9am and 8pm Monday to Saturday? Is Bolton Central Library open between 10am and 6pm on Sundays? Do Bolton Library services operate a drop off and pick up mobile service? What about investment in ALL publications from dailies to weeklies to Monthlies to up to date most recent books in any genre (within sense of course) If not then its failing, as that what my local library offers to ALL its residents and my local library is the 2nd biggest in the country I live compared to Amsterdam's new library which is 1st! BWFC71
  • Score: 0

3:28pm Thu 3 Jan 13

sallyupsteps says...

When the internet is the only source of information then two and two really will make five. You have to know the basics of a subject to sort out the information or misinformation.
When the internet is the only source of information then two and two really will make five. You have to know the basics of a subject to sort out the information or misinformation. sallyupsteps
  • Score: 0

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