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Wednesday 30 January 2019

Council’s libraries take top spot in national survey

Libraries across the country could take a leaf out of Cheshire East’s book as once again the borough proves to be among the best for bookworms.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has found that the borough’s libraries have outperformed many others. Cheshire East features as the top unitary authority for the number of library books loaned per 1,000 population (4,876), number one in the North West and fifth in the whole of the UK. 

And one town – Macclesfield – is recognised as the busiest in the borough, with 226,643 visits and more than 296,600 issues. Cheshire East boasts 17 libraries, including a mobile library, and collectively loaned 1.84 million items. The service also ranks highly for the number of volunteers (229) it employs.

The volunteers help with IT sessions for beginners, the annual summer reading challenge, delivering books to people who can no longer visit a library and many other events and activities.

The highly successful summer reading challenge reached 15.1 per cent of the five-to-12-year-old population, which represents the highest percentage reach for all north-west authorities. The results crown an amazing story for the council’s libraries.

The CIPFA survey is the recognised authoritative analysis of the country’s library service, looking into books issued, closures, spending and investment.

Despite a challenging financial climate, Cheshire East Council has managed to keep all its libraries operating, helping residents with information, services, assistance with ICT, reading and entertainment.

Councillor Liz Wardlaw, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for health, said: “The findings in this survey are outstanding and I am extremely proud of the library service and our staff who go that extra mile to ensure that borrowers and members receive a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

“Libraries are far more than just a place to borrow a book to read.

“I do hope that we are able to maintain this excellent record and ensure that, whatever the financial challenges ahead, we can continue to deliver a first-class library service to our residents.”

Cheshire East libraries enjoyed similar success in 2017, and again Macclesfield proved to be the most active for book borrowers. 

Joanne Shannon, the borough’s library services manager, said: “To be the most successful in the whole of the North West and out of all the 55 unitary authorities, is a tremendous achievement for us and I am extremely proud of Cheshire East libraries and the service we deliver to our residents and members.

“Our summer reading challenge was another success story for us and it is so rewarding to see so many people in Cheshire East enjoy accessing our libraries and taking advantage of our reading stock, multi-media resource and our computers.” 

Eleven of the borough’s libraries are open for 30 hours or more each week, with two libraries – Crewe and Macclesfield – open for longer than 45 hours. The number of book acquisitions per thousand population places the borough in the top 10 of the 55 unitary authorities and the borough also scored highly for the number of audio books, music, DVDs and other media for loan.

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