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Public Libraries: Internet

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 19586, tabled on 21 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support public libraries in the context of increasing use of online reading.

Answered on

28 June 2021

Please note that public libraries is a devolved matter.

In England, whilst library buildings were closed or access limited during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a significant rise in the number of people accessing library services online and downloading e-books and e-audiobooks from their library service.

Although absolute numbers of online readers increased, this was from a low base and it is not yet clear whether this will be a permanent shift or drop back. It will be for local councils, as the statutory providers of library services, to consider the needs of local people and communities with regard to future planning for digital library provision.

Total support committed to councils in England to tackle the impacts of Covid-19 is over £12 billion. Over £6 billion of this is unringfenced in recognition that local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet the Covid-19 pressures in their area, including public libraries.