The number of book loans from Maltese public libraries increased slightly last year, confirming an upward trend registered in recent years
Statistics published by the National Statistics Office show that a public libraries lent books on 1,045,869 occasions last year, representing an increase of 2.3% over the previous year. The number of book loans had been considerably lower in 2015, at 777,804, but has increased every year since, surpassing the 1 million mark in 2018.
Despite this increase, the number of book loans in Gozo decreased, from 135,224 in 2018 to 128,211 last year. 25,469 book loans were made at the Gozo Central Public Library, while a further book loans took place at Gozitan branch libraries.
A downward trend is also being registered at the Central Public Library at Belt is-Sebħ, which made 115,719 book loans last year, down from a peak of 124,634 in 2017. 322,517 book loans were made at regional libraries, and a further 465,421 at branch libraries in the island of Malta.
Malta Libraries had launched its eBook service back in April 2016, and the number of eBook loans has increased steadily since then. 14,001 eBooks were lent last year, up from just 8,200 in 2018.
Though the number of total book loans has increased, the number of new library members fell slightly in 2019, from 6,266 to 6,071.
As in previous years, most new library members – 3,973 – were children. Curiously, the number of new members aged 13 and under fell from 3,992 to 2,589, but the number of new members aged 14-17 increased dramatically, from 114 to 1,384.
Sharp rise in book acquisitions
The increase in book loans was more than matched by a significant increase in book acquisitions, from 36,369 in 2018 to 47,754 last year. However, the 2018 figure had itself represented a significant drop when compared to 2017, which saw public libraries acquire 45,991 books.
Last year, the number of book purchases increased from 10,569 to 12,413, while the number of donated books reached 33,702, up from 24,120 in the previous year.
Despite the significant increase in the use of eBooks, the number of eBooks acquired – 1,639 – was actually less than the 1,680 acquired in the previous year.