Possible reasons for the decline in annual adult book issues from UK public libraries are reviewed. Annual book issues have been decreasing since 1980, due mainly to a decrease in issues of adult fiction and, to a lesser extent, adult non‐fiction. Possible intrinsic causes include cuts in book funds in real terms and reduced accessibility of libraries through library closures and reduced opening hours. One likely extrinsic cause is increased real households' disposable income since the late 1970s, which has expanded people's leisure opportunities and made it easy for them to buy books. The widespread use of home computers and the Internet in recent years is also likely to be a factor, but there is little evidence for a major role of increased television watching. There are some data to suggest that the average person in the UK now spends less time reading books and this, combined with the increase in consumer book purchasing, is probably the underlying cause of the decline in public library book lending.
Grindlay, D.J.C. and Morris, A. (2004), "The decline in adult book lending in UK public libraries and its possible causes: I. Literature review", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 60 No. 6, pp. 609-631. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220410410568124
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