Libraries figures need second look

PUBLISHED: 07:10 20 June 2014

Archant

Further to June 5's front page, Devon County Council's libraries consultation exercise continues until July.

A two-tier system is proposed, with ‘medium and larger libraries’ becoming ‘Devon Centres’ while ‘smaller and less well-used libraries’ may have to rely on community support.

DCC statistics relating to usage are therefore of crucial importance.

For 2012-2013 Budleigh Salterton had 2,400 active borrowers, but that was stated as 13 per cent of catchment population.

Sidmouth had 3,997 borrowers (29 per cent of its catchment), and Seaton had 2,615 (28 per cent of its catchment).

Catchment population has been aggregated from the postcode areas of members of the public borrowing items from this library.

So if a book is borrowed by a resident of an outlying area who happens to visit the town, the library catchment area is increased and its usage percentage may well decline.

It seems strange to me that Budleigh Salterton is deemed to be ‘less well-used’ because its catchment population is calculated at over 18,000, whilst Sidmouth’s is only 13,000 and Seaton’s less than 10,000.

This is why I believe the statistical basis for the DCC recommendations needs to be re-examined as well as the proposals which will penalise many small towns.

Helen Tickle

(via email)

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