More than 2,000 people visited Manchester’s libraries in the first week after the city began a phased reopening of their doors to visitors.
Eight of the city’s libraries reopened on Saturday 4 July, with 600 people visiting their local branch on the first day alone.
Over the first week, almost four thousand books were borrowed, with customers also taking advantage of free internet usage by logging more than 450 PC sessions.
At present, the eight libraries which have reopened – Chorlton Library, City Library (at Central Library), Didsbury Library, Gorton Library, Longsight Library, Newton Heath Library, Withington Library and Forum Library, Wythenshawe – are operating on reduced opening hours of 11am – 3pm for all users on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
An additional extra hour, from 10am, is reserved especially for residents aged over 60 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent, carer, or older sibling. As part of a Libraries Safety Charter, an increased cleaning regime is in place, with hand sanitisers provided for customer use (see Notes to Editors).
2019/20 was a bumper year for the use of Manchester’s libraries, with more than 3.3 million visits made, an increase of four per cent on the previous year, with 900,000 uses of the internet recorded during this time. Central Library was the most visited public library in the country, with 2,022,641 visits recorded.
More than 1.6 million items were borrowed from Manchester’s libraries during 2019/20, an increase of 18% on the previous year. The increases came despite lockdown causing libraries to close part way through March.
A survey carried out prior to lockdown found that 91 per cent of customers in Manchester were satisfied with their libraries, with 91 per cent also pleased with the standard of customer care in the libraries.
Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “We’re taking the first careful steps towards reopening our city’s libraries and the instant eagerness of residents to come in, whether to collect or browse for books, or use our computer facilities, shows just how greatly these services are valued by our communities.
“We will continue to monitor visitor numbers and hope to make more progress with the process of reopening libraries in a phased way, which prioritises public safety.”