THERE were almost 90,000 fewer visitors to Cambridgeshireshire libraries in 2011/12 than 2010/11.

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Cambridgeshire Council figures revealed Cambridgeshire libraries welcomed 2,666,337 visitors between April 2011 and 2012, representing a decrease of 89,800 from 2,756,137 people who took advantage of the facilities during the same period the previous year.

The number of library visitors fell in March, Wisbech, Whittlesey and Ely.

However, Chatteris library bucked the general downward trend and saws its visitor numbers increase by 18 per cent.

The library attracted 67,717 visitors between April 2011 and April 2012, which was 10,092 more than the previous year (57,625).

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Learning, Cllr David Harty, attributed Chatteris’ success to its association with a range of community projects.

He said: “We’re very pleased that visitor figures are remaining high at Chatteris Library.

“The Friends Group works very hard with the service to increase use, and the library is also benefitting from participation in the Arts Alive project.”

Cambridgeshire’s libraries will soon benefit from upgraded IT facilities and free WiFi, which the council hopes will attract visitors.

Cllr Harty believes the decrease in Cambridgeshire library visitors can be explained by a reduction of library opening hours across the county.

He said: “What’s important to take into consideration with these figures is that last year we reviewed all our library opening hours, and in some cases this resulted in a reduction.

“This was part of our plans to reduce the operating costs of the overall service - allowing us to ensure we can keep all of our libraries open.”

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