Libraries in county buck the trend with visitors

From hosting concerts to offering health events, gone are the days of Northampton's libraries only being places to borrow books.

The latest reports show libraries across England are seeing a steady drop in the number of adult visitors and in other parts of the country, trials are set to go ahead running library services in supermarkets and shops to boost numbers. There have also been suggestions of using libraries to host other events.

However, in Northampton, where the town's libraries are already used to host a number of non-literary related activities, it is bucking national trends with thousands still pouring through their doors.

Carl Dorney, central library manager, said: "These days the library is not just about borrowing books, we have lots of community activities going on.

"The Wootton Fields Library has hosted a pop concert in the past and we have had choirs performing here and we are looking to do more things like this in the future.

"We want to get away from the dusty old 'shush' reputation of libraries and show libraries are a place for all people and lots of activities.

"We have also had a lot of multi-cultural projects recently for young people, run the job club on Fridays where we provide help with CVs and have lots of children's activities.

"We also have active friends groups where we encourage people to become friends of the libraries throughout town and give feedback on what they want to see in the libraries.

"It is a long time since we have been the type of library that people remember from their childhood where you are not allowed to talk and they are very strict places.

"I had a call the other week from someone who asked if it was okay if their children came to the library as they were quite noisy, but we want there to be an atmosphere where people can meet and chat.

"There are of course places where people can have quiet study but we try to have more of a boutique feel now and there's even a coffee machine and a shop when you come in."

Julie McNeill, program co-ordinator, is also behind a health taster program which will run in October offering massages and health therapies.

But some visitors still like visiting the library for traditional purposes. Diane Mansfield, aged 52, who uses Northampton central library, said: "I still think of libraries as a place you go for books and that's why I visit them."