The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns is still being seen on the use of Swindon’s libraries.

Figures on the usage of the five core libraries funded and run by Swindon Borough Council feature in the report that the council’s cabinet member for heritage, arts and culture, Councillor Marina Strinkovsky was to make to the overview and scrutiny committee on Monday.

It says 5,656 new library members joined between April and October 2023 and adds: “Since the pandemic lockdowns, total loans and visitors have risen sharply.

"Loans increased by 273 per cent in 2021-22 and a further 46 per cent in 2022-2023. Visits grew by 459 per cent in 2021-2022, then a further 66 per certain 2022-2023.

"This growth is forecast to continue in 2023-2024.”

That growth, however, has still some way to go to get numbers back to pre-pandemic levels.

In 2018-2019 there were 521,923 visits to the five libraries with 587,155 books borrowed. That dropped very slightly the year after, where the very end of the financial year saw a complete lockdown.

The last full year, 2022-23, saw 240,906 visits and 275,704 items loaned, hugely higher than both 2020-21 and 2021-22, but still less than half the figures pre-pandemic.