Farnsfield Library

Published 4th March 2024

When asked to imagine a library, one may still picture towering shelves with dusty covers, stern-faced staff members and a strict no talking policy – but for years now, Inspire have been changing the face of libraries in Nottinghamshire to one of creativity and innovation, not least with their youngest visitors. This World Book Day they invite you to share in their success as they debut impressive data on a year of inspiring Nottinghamshire’s youngest residents to get reading.

Left: three girls sat on a blue sofa reading and smiling, right: mother and child reading together in the library

In 2023, libraries in Nottinghamshire welcomed just under 11,000 new members under the age of 12, over 1,500 more than the previous year. That year also saw record engagement with the Summer Reading Challenge, a program created with The Reading Agency to support children’s reading over the summer. Over 9,000 children took part in the challenge, reading six books each and collecting rewards along the way. Over the whole year, the most eager of young readers reside in the area of Broxtowe with 164,649 books borrowed last year by under 12s alone – that’s over 2,000 books per square kilometer!

So what’s to blame for this explosion of literary appreciation amongst children? Inspire say there are various factors at play, including the support for libraries by primary schools. Last year 1,140 classes visited their local library for introductory sessions, book selection sessions and themed talks by library staff. Visiting the library with their peers offers children the chance to browse with their friends and to get excited about the library as a place to spend their time outside of school too. New books are introduced to their shelves almost daily, with characters old and new just waiting to inspire a new generation.

Data from 2023 show a hardly surprising group of authors taking the most-borrowed prize. The most borrowed title was Big Shot, book sixteen of Jeff Kinney’s immensely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. This installment follows main character Greg as he has a disastrous day at his school’s sports competition, but nevertheless lands a spot on their albeit lowest-rated basketball team. Greg finds himself under pressure when the outcome of the season lies on his gameplay, and while Greg’s Big Shot is a far cry from the mystical or adrenaline-fueled adventures stacking the adult book charts, it’s these relatable and hopeful stories of victory that are inspiring today’s youngest readers. Children’s favourite David Walliams also makes the list, holding both the second and third spaces on last year’s most borrowed with Gangsta Granny Strikes Again and The World’s Worst Children, however older readers will be pleased to hear that some older favourites still make the cut, with both Roald Dahl and J. K. Rowling also appearing in the line-up.

Looking forward, Inspire hope to continue delivering new worlds and immersive stories right into the laps of children. This World Book Day, teams will be at Sutton in Ashfield Library delivering the musical production Luna Loves Library Day, a theatre show co-produced by Little Seeds Music and Z-arts, for school audiences as part of their current tour. As a new season of events gets underway in the coming weeks, Inspire are also preparing to welcome children’s authors to their libraries including Petr Horáček and Loretta Schauer, who will be sharing their stories and creativity with children at Beeston, West Bridgford, Retford and Worksop libraries.

"We’re proud to deliver a fantastic offering for children in our libraries, ranging from the school visits and inspiring library events to the fantastic reading events we host with authors. The data we’re debuting here shows the great impact that our libraries and their staff have on children in Nottinghamshire, and I am excited to see this impact continue well into the future”.

Peter Gaw, CEO of Inspire

As always, library membership is free for all and takes a matter of minutes – and there’s no age restriction at all so even the tiniest of Nottinghamshire’s residents can be proud owners of an Inspire library card. There are no fees associated with borrowing library stock, with no overdue charges for under 18s and the ability to reserve stock from across the county for free. With thousands of titles and exciting new words waiting beyond the library door, Inspire libraries is definitely the place to be for youngsters in the county.

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