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John Harvard Library bucks the trend as visitor numbers soar

As John Harvard Library in Borough High Street celebrates the first anniversary of its major refurbishment, Southwark Council has published new statistics which show that the new facility has defied the national trend of decline in library use.

Cllr Veronica Ward
Cllr Veronica Ward

The library reopened in November 2009 following a 13-month refurbishment programme funded by a £1.42 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

More than 177,000 items have been borrowed over the past year, up 75 per cent on the comparable period before the library's closure.

The number of visitors has climbed 17 per cent, with 246,000 visits recorded during the last year.

"It's great to see this flagship library, and others in Southwark, bucking the national trend and enjoying a rise in popularity," says Cllr Veronica Ward, cabinet member for culture leisure, sport and the Olympics.

"John Harvard Library has put Southwark at the forefront of 21st century libraries and is a showcase for what libraries can offer.

"Its modern facilities, and welcoming environment, have made this project a success."

From Monday 15 November the library is running a programme of events to celebrate its first birthday.

The celebrations culminate in a visit from author Joanna Czechowska who will be joining a lunchtime meeting of the library's book group to join a discussion about her book The Black Madonna of Derby.

The increased popularity of John Harvard Library is in contrast to the recently published national statistics from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy which show a decline in the number of visits to libraries and items borrowed.

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