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IMPROVED PERFORMANCE AT OXFORDSHIRE LIBRARIES SEES 7% USAGE INCREASE

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IThe number of people using Oxfordshire libraries has risen by 7 % in the first six months of 2004. ...
IThe number of people using Oxfordshire libraries has risen by 7 % in the first six months of 2004.

The Oxfordshire CC library service says the continuing improved performance is linked to a number of factors including longer opening hours at 11 main branches.

Abingdon, Witney, Banbury, Didcot, Bicester, Wantage, Henley, Cowley, Summertown, Headington and Kidlington libraries all extended their opening time in February 2004.

The libraries new computer management system 'Galaxy' has also played a key part. Now that books are on the web, people can find, take out and reserve them more easily. In June 2004, 81% of reservations were supplied within seven days compared with only 10% in 2001. The number of books issued since the start of the year has also increased by 6%.

The improvements to the library service and its increased take up in Oxfordshire refute claims made in the Libri Report published in April 2004 - 'Who's in Charge? Responsibility for the Public Library Service.' This document stated that public libraries were in terminal decline, both in terms of use and performance, and would cease to exist in 20 years unless action was taken.

Oxfordshire CC's county librarian, Andrew Coggins, said: 'It is extremely pleasing to see the results of county council investment in ICT and increased opening hours is yielding such results. Our staff have shown real commitment and enthusiasm in grasping these changes and are working hard to deliver ever improving services.

'We plan to continue building on our improved performance in all 50 of our local and mobile libraries. Thirty two of our libraries now have the 'Galaxy' computer system up and running and more branches and mobile libraries are going onto the system in the next few months.'

Executive member for learning & culture, Neil Fawcett, said: 'It's really encouraging that more people are using their local libraries. The recent ICT developments mean that reserving and taking out books has never been easier. Oxfordshire libraries are leading the way in bringing new people into libraries in contrast to national concerns about library services. We are determined to keep moving forward and encouraging more and more people to use their local library.'

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