Lewisham Library statistics for attendance and book issues have just been released in response to a request to Rob Wilson, Minister for Libraries. These statistics show that book lending in Lewisham has decreased by a shocking 45%!
2009/10 figures are important in that they show the library stats before any of Lewisham libraries were handed over to voluntary organisations and businesses to run.
These statistics demonstrate very clearly that volunteers cannot deliver the same professional, proactive and knowledgeable service as trained library professionals to library users, resulting in this dramatic drop in book issues.
2015/16 Visits: 2,078,294
2014/15 Visits: 2,081,986
2009/10 Visits: 2,028,350
It is the young people of this borough who are being let down most. Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between reading for leisure and academic achievement in young people, so with this drop in professional library staff and book issues, is it any surprise that Lewisham does relatively poorly on education indicators. 44% of 19 year olds have no qualifications, the third highest of any London borough. 63% of pupils receiving free school meals do not get five good GCSEs (5 A*-C grades, including English and Maths), compared to a London average of 54%.
We believe the Mayor and Lewisham Council have badly misled the public in presenting the alternative 'community library' system as being as efficient and comprehensive as the council-run library service. These statistics are a stark reminder of what we have lost. We must guard against any further downgrade in our public library services!