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Libraries help fight loneliness, survey finds

Eight out of 10 people say visiting a library has helped them combat feelings of loneliness, according to a new survey.

The Manchester Libraries User Survey found four in 10 respondents reported experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation from others.

The people who indicated that they often or sometimes felt this way were asked whether the library helped combat these feelings.

And more than eight in 10 agreed that it did.

‘I come at least once or twice a week,’ said one Manchester library user.

‘The library is an essential community resource for me and my daughter. My mum used to bring me to libraries as a child. They are safe and welcoming spaces that we are lucky to have.’

The survey also indicated that respondents felt the library served as both an information hub and community centre, providing visitors with an opportunity to meet other people and engage in social activities.

Annual figures published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) also revealed that Manchester Central Library was the most visited in Great Britain for the second year in a row, with 2,022,641 visits (up from 1.9 million in 2018/19).

CIPFA annual library figures revealed that total spending on libraries in Britain decreased by nearly £20 million over the past year, a reduction of 2.6% from 2018/19.

‘The results of the recent survey of Manchester libraries indicates that community centres such as public libraries are still incredibly important, especially as we enter a period of uncertainty following the pandemic,’ said CIPFA chief executive, Rob Whiteman.

‘Local authorities are facing difficult decisions. Moving forward, it will be more important than ever for councils to be given the power to make their own choices about how crucial community resources such as libraries will be prioritised.’

Manchester City Council’s executive member for skills, culture and leisure, Cllr Luthfur Rahman OBE, said: ‘We know that residents’ health and wellbeing is improved by using their local library and wanted to help in measuring and demonstrating that people feel better when they use their local library.’

 

Photo Credit – Voltamax (Pixabay)

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