THE number of people borrowing books from public libraries in Wales is up almost five per cent in the last 12 months, the latest figures have revealed.

The rise comes in stark contrast to the rest of the UK which has seen a decrease of more than four per cent according to figures released by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) for 2013-14.

While visits to libraries and book issues have slightly decreased, there were still more than 14 million physical visits to public libraries across Wales last year and more than 12.3 million books issued to library users. Audio-visual and electronic issues, including e-books and e-zines rose to over 1 million showing an increase in usage of 19% compared to last year.

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism Ken Skates said: “I’m pleased to see the increase in the number of active borrowers in Wales and the increase in electronic issues. Libraries make a real difference to people’s lives by improving literacy, developing digital skills and providing access to knowledge, which in turn helps to tackle poverty and support health and well-being.”