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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 19:30 GMT
Libraries make their voices heard
Sarra Elgan reading a book
Sarra Elgan helped to launch the campaign in New Tredegar
A campaign has been launched to overturn the traditional image of libraries as quiet, dusty places which stock only historical romances.

The "Something to Shout About" campaign aims to encourage more people to use libraries.

Grants of 2.5m will also be available to modernise buildings and provide services such as wi-fi.

More than a quarter of the Welsh population visit libraries - the highest proportion in the UK.

But many library buildings are said to be in a poor condition.

What visitors to Canton library in Cardiff think of the service

The campaign was launched by TV presenter Sarra Elgan and Culture Minister Alun Pugh, who read to a group of under-fives at the Whiterose Information Resource Centre in New Tredegar.

Mr Pugh said: "Libraries offer so much more these days but too many people are put off by the outdated image of libraries or the depressing condition of some.

"We want to increase access to our libraries and this is why I've made money available to create libraries fit for the twenty-first century."

323 libraries are open 10 hours or more a week
4m lending books are held
48m a year is spent on libraries - 4.2p per person per day
More than 800,000 people are "active borrowers" - 27% of the population
People make 14.5m visits to public libraries a year, borrowing 16.5m items
Source: Public Library Statistics CIPFA Actuals, 2004-05 and individual libraries across Wales

Libraries will be able to apply for grants to refurbish buildings, provide new services such as wi-fi and upgrade disabled facilities.

Money is also available to give more library users access to services like online book catalogues.

The Welsh Assembly Government said there was clear evidence that upgrading libraries could bring a dramatic increase in visitors, citing Oystermouth Library in Swansea, which re-opened in 2005 after an 80,000 facelift.

Visits increased by 31% in the first year, books issued by 24% and books issued to children under five more than doubled.

Library job cuts in savings plan
25 Jan 07 |  Cornwall

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