More people are borrowing books from local libraries, despite a drop in new memberships, according to national data.

Throughout 2017, more than 910,000 books were borrowed from all libraries - an increase of 8% over the previous year.

The number of loans has seen a steady increase between 2015 and 2017, rising by more than 130,000 books over this period.

At the same time, however, new library memberships dipped from 6,251 in 2015 to 5,119 last year.

The most significant increases were registered in the South Eastern and the Northern districts, where loans increased by nearly 20%, according to Malta Libraries figures.

The public libraries in Żejtun, Qrendi, Marsaxlokk, Gudja and Mqabba registered increases of over 20 per cent, while those in Żurrieq and Birżebbuġa reported the highest drops in book loans - 7.4 and 2.2 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, the highest increases in book loans in the Northern district were registered in Għargħur and Mosta, both of which exceeded 30 per cent.

Book acquisitions and loans: 2015-2017Book acquisitions and loans: 2015-2017

Wider variety of books on book shelves

In 2017, book acquisitions –including of the eBook variety - increased by more than two per cent: a total of 45,991 new ones were put on public library shelves.

Data released by the National Statistics on Thursday shows that the main source of acquisition continued to be book donations: nearly three out of every four were donated.

Meanwhile, the number of books and periodicals received by the National Library of Malta under legal deposit on 2017 reached 1,340 - an increase of 31% per cent when compared to 2016.

Drop in book imports and exports

Both imports and exports of printed book material and periodicals during 2017 dropped – standing at €13.2 and €5.4 million respectively.

According to the NSO figures, the value of imports declined by 22.7 per cent, while exports fell by 14.2 per cent.

Book acquisitions and loans: 2015-2017Book acquisitions and loans: 2015-2017

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