University students are significantly less likely to visit a library than their counterparts a decade ago, reveals a survey.
Students on average are taking out 56 library books per year
There has been a 22% long-term decline in student library visits, show statistics from the Society of College, National and University Libraries.
This reflects an increased use of online resources, suggests the university libraries' organisation.
The figures show an annual fall of 3% in student library visits.
The statistics, covering a large majority of higher education institutions, show that students are withdrawing an average of 56 books per year - compared to 57 in the previous year.
Universities are spending more than £523m each year on their libraries, shows the survey - with spending per student rising to £332, compared to £307 in the previous year. T
he biggest individual spender was Oxford University, with £28m.
Despite the reduction in trips to libraries - the figures also show that there has been a long-term increase in the number of book loans, up by 11% in the past 10 years.
The university library organisation interprets this as a reflection of a changing role for libraries - which it calls "clicks and mortar" - in which they provide an online service as well as a place where students come to work.
"The university library is not just a collection of books but a unique space to read-around a subject, explore new ideas and build real social connections," said Toby Bainton, secretary of Sconul.
"Our libraries are themselves learning, so they can meet the challenge of the modern era, but they also remain true to their fundamental purpose as a unique place to think."