Footfall into Carlisle Library has seen a dramatic decline in recent years, mirroring the challenges faced by libraries nationwide.

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted by the News & Star highlights the drop in visitor numbers.

In 2019, before the onset of the pandemic, the library welcomed 271,010 visitors.

This figure has dwindled drastically, with only 119,641 visitors recorded in 2022.

This year, a similar picture is being painted of a decline in people using the service with only 116,488 being recorded entering the premises up until September. 

The decrease in library attendance over the past few years can be partly attributed to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, these statistics reflect a broader trend of challenges faced by libraries nationwide.

Over the last decade, libraries across the country have faced severe cuts. 

By 2019, 773 libraries had closed their doors since 2010. 

Despite the national trend, Councillor Anne Quilter, Cumberland Council’s Executive Member for Vibrant and Healthy Places, said library memberships have been 'increasing' year on year with the council being committed it remains a 'vital service' to residents. 

“Libraries across the country have faced shifting trends in recent years and changes in how people access information have undoubtedly affected our visitor numbers following on from the Covid-19 pandemic," she said. 

“However, we are seeing a gradual increase in footfall across our libraries with a significant increase year on year in library memberships and the number of books borrowed post-pandemic, and we predict this will continue. 

“We are committed to ensuring our libraries remain a vital community resource providing a welcoming and inclusive space for all our residents.

“Libraries are not just about footfall, they provide vital services to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities - they make a real difference to residents’ wellbeing.”

As the cost of living hit the county last year, many libraries diverted their service to promote and operate as a 'warm hub', allowing people to come in and get a heat during a time of crippling fuel bills.

A national survey by Libraries Connected revealed that 93 per cent of libraries throughout the country would be taking part in a formal warm spaces scheme again this year. 

Despite energy prices falling, 79 per cent of respondents expected demand for their warm spaces to be about the same or higher than last year.