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Library lending rate best in Scotland

The new home of council meetings once the old library building next door is refurbished. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND Library has the highest booking lending rate per capita in Scotland – and the second highest in the UK.

The figures were revealed as part of the Lerwick library’s performance update for April 2018 to March this year.

Visitor numbers were up by 8.27 per cent as the library enjoyed increased footfall for a fourth year running.

There were a total of 155,064 physical visits during the year, while a total of 5,532 people borrowed books.

Issues of eAudio books were up by 187 per cent, while library van users increased by 4.6 per cent.

A customer satisfaction survey heralded results of 93 per cent – down by three per cent on the previous year.

Social media, meanwhile, was another boon for the library, which has previously hit the headlines for its joshing with the Orkney Library.

Shetland Library’s Twitter followers rose by 44 per cent to over 15,000, with eight million impressions made on the social media platform.

During the year the library retired one of its old vans, saving £100,000 in capital replacement costs, with fewer people using the mobile service over recent years and “too many cancelled runs” too.

A number of events were held throughout the year, bringing in 11,594 visits, while the library’s PCs were used for a total of 11,620 hours – a decrease of six per cent on the previous year.

Library manager Karen Fraser said that “lending stats aren’t everything and folk use the library in all different ways, but our staff have been putting a huge amount of work into promoting reading so it’s good to be able to show it in numbers”.

“The past year has a very busy one for the library and we’ve had success increasing loans of eBooks, especially eAudiobooks, as well as improving our mobile service,” she added.

“We’ve also had good feedback from our customers also about how much they value having the safe, free space of the library – a lot of people might be regular library users but never borrow a book.”

Fraser added that only Richmond upon Thames (5,279 loans per 1,000 population) bettered Shetland (5,159 loans per 1,000 population) when it came to loan rates in Britain.

General Election - 12 December 2019