Manchester’s libraries now host almost three million visitors per year - with thousands of new activities and events having been added to the annual citywide calendar in the past twelve months.
The total number of visits recorded rose to 2,917,370 in 2016/7, from 2,784,449 in 2015/6, while attendance at library-based activities and events increased by 30 per cent - with the total number of activities offered rising to more than 134,000, from less than 100,000 for the previous year.
Central Library is one of the most popular libraries in the country, with around 1.5 million visits in 2016/7. Popular features across the library’s four floors include a high-tech media lounge, performance spaces, dedicated children's and business libraries and the Archives+ family history centre. The library’s dedicated exhibition space has hosted artwork and images covering everything from the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton to Manchester’s homegrown rock heroes Oasis.
All 22 of Manchester's libraries citywide offer free wifi, with usage numbers increasing by 35 per cent to more than 390,000 sessions in 2016/7. Use of the libraries 24/7 online service also increased greatly over the last 12 months, with website visits increased by 26 per cent.
Use of e-books and e-magazines more than doubled after the introduction of the new Zinio service. Zinio allows library members to read full digital versions of more than 100 different magazines on their computer, smartphone or tablet - all for free.
The total number of educational sessions offered at Manchester’s libraries citywide rose to more than 20,000 in 2016/7, from just under 15,000 in 2015/6. Nursery and school visits rose by 70 per cent over the period, an increase aided by the Read Manchester campaign, which is jointly run by Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust to promote reading and boost literacy among local children.
Manchester Libraries are playing a full part in promoting this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. The much-loved, free annual activity, which aims to keep children aged from 4-11 years old reading throughout the long school holidays, is delivered by Manchester Libraries in association with The Reading Agency. Nearly 6,000 Manchester children took part in last year's Challenge.
Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Our team work incredibly hard to make Manchester Libraries brilliant places for people of all ages to visit, providing an ever-increasing range of activities, events and exhibitions which are attracting more and more Mancunians.
“Whether it’s for leisure or for learning, reading for pleasure or to meet educational goals, it’s great to know that our citywide network of libraries are now more popular than ever before.”