Public Libraries News points to Brent's year to date figures. Up to February compared to the same period last year, we saw a 1% rise in issues and a 1.2% decline in visits. Such a small change in visits and issues will surprise many people I suspect. We simultaneously achieved a financial saving of £816k, which would have been somewhat higher if we hadn't chosen to invest in better IT and seven day opening in all our six libraries.
Of course, the challenge in libraries next will be to not just match last year, but exceed it. The library staff are doing a great job with a myriad of initiatives, but we will have bumps in the road. The rebuild at Willesden is bound to effect visitor numbers, despite the robust interim arrangements. More positively, the new Wembley library should attract far more people than the current Town Hall library. We shall have to see how it goes.