Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Most popular libraries revealed

Norwich Millennium Library
Norwich Millennium Library has topped the poll for the second year running

A library in East Anglia has been revealed as England's most popular for the second year running.

The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library had more visitors and lent more books than any other in 2007/08.

Library visitor numbers were also high in Birmingham, Manchester, Croydon and Brighton, the Museums and Libraries Archive Council (MLA) poll found.

Chelmsford Library, in Essex, was the second highest book lender, followed by Milton Keynes, Oxford and Chesterfield.

The Norfolk library attracted 1,500,695 visitors and lent 1,139,090 books during the period.

Web hits soar

In total the number of visits to libraries across England was down 2.6% from 2006/07 to 328.5 million.

And the number of people who borrowed books was also down, dropping 3.3% to 12.5 million.

But the number of people accessing library services via the internet, for services including book renewals and catalogue inquiries, was up by 20%, with more than 76 million web visits.

Jennifer Holland, head of Norfolk County Council's Library Service, said: "I'm extremely proud of all the hard work and effort that goes into making our libraries so popular.

"It is a credit to the people of Norfolk that they are making such good use of this great, free service."

John Gretton, cabinet member for cultural services at the council, said: "This is not only a great success for the people of Norwich and Norfolk, it is also a tribute to the commitment of library staff."

MLA chief executive Roy Clare said: "We are working for a library service that is integrated with other community services and a focus for learning, training and research.

"Local authorities across England are also investing in their library services, with announcements recently of substantial investments in Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham."

The annual survey was compiled by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy for the MLA.

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