The local population is loaning an increasing number of books from Malta’s public libraries. Fresh NSO data shows that in 2022, total book loans stood at 659,616, an increase of 38,414, or 6.2 per cent, over the preceding year.
After the dip in book loans in 2020, which was caused by the outbreak of the pandemic, book loans from public libraries have registered an increase for the third year running.
When compared to the preceding year, public libraries in Western and the Northen districts registered the largest increases in book loans, at the rates of 20.0 per cent and 19.8 per cent respectively. In the sister island of Gozo, the majority of book loans was registered at the public library of Victoria numbering 29,061, followed by Nadur public library with 17,193 book loans.
The regional libraries at Ħ’Attard and Ħaż-Żebbuġ had most of the increase in book loans among the libraries of the Western district, such that together they represented over half of the gains in this district year-on-year.
With reference to the Northen district, the public libraries of Mosta and Naxxar recorded most of the book loans respectively amounting to 49.7 and 14.7 per cent of the total registered in the district. Conversely, the public libraries of the South Eastern district registered a decrease of 4.7 per cent in book loans.
Compared to the previous year, the biggest decrease in book loans from the public libraries was registered in Mqabba, 27.9 per cent. On the other hand, in the same district an increase of 52.4 per cent in book loans was registered in the public library of Ħal Kirkop.
In 2022, book acquisitions amounted to 32,124, down by 16.3 per cent when compared to the preceding year. The biggest drop has been registered in eBooks which decreased by 77.4 per cent, followed by book donations with a decrease of 16.1 per cent . On the other hand, the book purchases recorded an increase of 14.7 per cent when compared with the previous year.
New members of public libraries, in 2022, stood at 5,947, up by 73.1 per cent when compared to the preceding year. Likewise, the share of persons under the age of 18 among the new library members went up from 52.1 to 56.5 per cent. The number of books and periodicals received by the National Library of Malta under legal deposit amounted to 881, down by 11.0 per cent when compared to 2021. In 2022, the number of books overtook the number of periodicals.