A hunt is on to find Falkirk’s disappearing book borrowers after the number of users plummetted by a sixth in three years.
During the first quarter of 2014, 25,813 people used the library service, down from 31,199 during the same period in 2011.
Despite new services, including electronic books, user numbers have fallen consistently every quarter.
Issues are also down, going from 1.1 million in 2010-11 to 927,074 in 2012/13.
The figures were discussed by Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee last week.
Members were puzzled by the situation, at a time when Glasgow and Edinburgh are both experiencing increases.
Councillor Allyson Black said: “How do we increase library users?
“Libraries in Glasgow and Edinburgh are managing to keep their user numbers up as ours fall every year. We should be looking at what they do.”
The service, operated by Falkirk Community Trust, has eight branches and a mobile unit. As well as e-book downloads, which generated 500 active borrowers, it offers CDs, DVDs and audio books and there are reference services at Falkirk and Grangemouth.
Free internet use is popular in many areas and children’s activities, such as Baby and Toddler Rhymetime encourage interaction and reading.
Neil Brown, the Trust’s manager, said: “Glasgow and Edinburgh may be seeing an increase in users, but most of the country is seeing a decrease.
“The location of some of the facilities isn’t ideal. Falkirk Library may have been in a good position when built, but not now. It’s set back from the road and there is no parking, which makes it more difficult for young families to use.”
The decline in borrowers from the last quarter of 2013, to the first of 2014 was 0.6 per cent, the smallest in recent years and the Trust hopes the downward trend is beginning to plateau.
Mr Brown added that they were currently communicating with users and non-users to find what services they would like from their library.
The findings are to be published at the end of the year and the data used to take the service into the 21st century.
You can also give your views on how to boost the service on the Trust’s Facebook page.