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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 12:01 GMT
Authors help to boost libraries
Nick Hornby
Author Nick Hornby has endorsed the drive to publicise libraries
Authors including Philip Pullman and Nick Hornby have joined an initiative to revitalise public libraries.

The Love Libraries scheme aims to give them a makeover, transforming them into a "21st century reading service".

Revamps in the pipeline include more online borrowing, flexible opening hours and a review of book stocks.

Recent research has shown that adults are losing interest in lending libraries, with one in five having never visited their local library.

'Essential part'

Some 15% of adults think that libraries are places for "pensioners or people to keep warm".

Half of all adults are unaware that they can borrow books via the internet, and 54% think there is no good reason to visit their local library.

A thriving library system is an essential part of a civilised society
Author Terence Blacker

Just over 20% are not even sure when their library is open, while more than a third do not know they could borrow up to six books at a time free of charge.

Children's use of public libraries has bucked the trend, having increased in recent years.

Terence Blacker, best known for writing children's fiction and a supporter of the campaign, said: "Don't let's fall for the lie that libraries play a less important part today than they used to. A thriving library system is an essential part of a civilised society."

Other writers, including Tracy Chevalier and Tony Parsons, have also given the scheme their backing.

'Out of step'

They will become Love Libraries champions, offer personal visits to local libraries, or simply say why they are still a useful resource.

Miranda McKearney, director of the Reading Agency, has said: "We are in danger of permanently alienating the mainstream UK adult audience.

"Libraries haven't always been good at telling the world they're changing, and public perceptions are out of step with the major changes that are occurring in the library service," she said.

Three libraries in Richmond, Gravesend and Newquay have been earmarked to undergo refurbishment, and their transformation will be unveiled in July.


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