Some time ago, I was urged to publish the CIPFA comparison of public library figures. CIPFA are due to publish this in the next day or two, and the Guardian has trailed it in advance. As I suggested, library authorities around England are seeing visits and loans drop at an alarming rate. The Brent figures are going up in both cases. It is also worth noting that Brent library satisfaction ratings as measured by PLUS were better in 2012 than they were in 2009.
I see that Brent does not quite get Wembley Library in the top ten busiest libraries in the Guardian piece, as it has "only" 651,677 visits for the year ending March 2014. A glance at the more recent half year data suggests to me that that picture will change at the end of this financial year, as by then Wembley Library should be getting more than one million visits a year.
Of course, it will again take a while for us to see this as CIPFA publish their comparisons quite late in the financial year. Nonetheless, it is a good indication (yet again) that the Libraries Transformation Project was the right way to go.
Scott Bartle is, as the judge remarked in the 2011 libraries judgement "simply wrong". The decline of Brent libraries prior to 2011 could quite easily have continued as it has done across England. Alternative strategies such as cutting opening hours would be overwhelmingly likely to affect visits and loan figures, as well as the positive user satisfaction ratings. The positive figures show that the Libraries Transformation Strategy was a well founded strategy, which will be even more successful once the new Willesden Library Centre opens next year.