Public Libraries News published the visit and issue numbers up to February of Brent Libraries a short time ago. The full year figures are now out. Public Libraries News has mentioned the full year figures, but pointed out that they only show our existing branches. The figures I am quoting are for all visits and issues of Brent Library service, including the former libraries for 2011.
Visits. 1,506,852. 1,526,095
Issues. 985,590. 963,188
So visits went up by 1.3%, and issues went down by 2.3%. I think that when we decided our strategy in 2011, many people would have found such a performance unbelievable. Of course, we also have the users views from the PLUS survey that the service is much better than it was in 2009. I think it is a great tribute to the library staff that Brent libraries have come so far so quickly.
The other thing to notice about the breakdown from last year is the success of Kilburn library. Following its refurbishment, Kilburn was re-opened on 10 September last year. If you compare visit numbers for October 2012 to the end of March 2013 to the same period in the previous year you get a trebling (from 57,578 to 173,660). A comparison of issues in the same period shows that issues rose by more than 40%.
That seems to me a good indicator that concentrating our resources on a smaller number of excellent libraries in accessible locations open seven days a week is the right strategy. Hopefully the rebuilt Willesden Library and the soon to open Wembley Library will replicate the success of Kilburn.