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Official Statistics - Participation in Core and Regular Library Activities in Northern Ireland 2016/17

A Statistical Bulletin detailing information on participation in core (Class Visits, Got IT, Reading Groups, Rhythm and Rhyme, Storytime) and regular (Creative Writing, Genealogy, Go ON, Job Clubs, Knit and Natter, Mindful Colouring, Tea and Newspapers) library activities from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 has been published by Libraries NI. 

Key Findings 

From 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017, Libraries NI’s 96 branch libraries and several of its 16 mobile libraries delivered a range of programmes and activities focused on promoting reading, learning and access to culture, heritage and information. Key findings show that during this period: 

  • Compared with the previous year, there has been an increase in the number of sessions and in participation at these sessions, for both core and regular activities.

  • Looking at core activities, there has been a 7% increase in the number of core sessions compared with 2015/16 and an 11% increase in participation in these. There have been increases in the number of sessions and instances of participation for school class visitsreading groups (both adults and children); Rhythm and Rhyme; and Storytime, and a decrease in the number of adult Got IT sessions and participation in these.

  • Compared with 2015/16, Libraries NI delivered almost double the number of regular activity sessions and an 84% increase in participation in these. Whilst much of this was due to the introduction of 3 new regular activities, there was a 7% increase in the number of comparable sessions that were delivered and an 8% increase in participation in those. This was comprised of a decrease in adult Go ON sessions and participation; a decrease in the number of Job Clubs and participation in those; and a reduction in participation in Genealogy sessions; but an increase in the number of Knit and Natter sessions as well as an increase in participation in those.

Additionally, for the first time, in 2016/17 there were:

  • 1,955 instances of adult participation in 286 Creative Writing sessions.
  • 6,067 instances of adult participation in 1,245 Mindful Colouring sessions.
  • 25,032 instances of adult participation in 3,386 Tea and Newspapers sessions.


1.     The Bulletin is published on the Libraries NI website at:

2.     Statistics are compiled from data input by 96 branch managers (and several of the 16 mobile library managers where applicable) to the Libraries NI Activity Database which was established in April 2012.

3.     This is the fifth Bulletin reporting on participant information from the Libraries NI Activity Database.

4.     All participant numbers refer to instances of participation rather than individual people.

5.     All percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

6.     Core library activities are defined as follows:

Class Visits: a programme open to all Northern Ireland nursery, primary, post primary and special needs schools and aims to give pupils an insight into the range of services available at their local library, and to encourage them to become members. Classes can come to the library for book exchange, storytelling, craft sessions, to use computers etc. Libraries NI staff have also begun outreach visits to many schools to promote the various library services and read stories to pupils.

Got IT: a free programme to support people with little or no knowledge of computers and help them develop IT basic skills. The programme is aimed at adults and delivered by Libraries NI staff on a one-to-one or small group basis, with sessions covering an introduction to computers, the Internet and email.

Reading Groups: separate sessions for adults and children/teenagers and hosted by Libraries NI staff to encourage people to read for pleasure, share their enthusiasm about books and develop the confidence to formulate and express opinions about reading. Reading groups hosted by external organisations that meet in the library premises with input from library staff and/or use library resources are also facilitated.

Rhythm and Rhyme: a free programme of stories, rhymes and songs delivered on a regular or seasonal basis by Libraries NI staff (or held in partnership with SureStart) for parents, carers and pre-school children (aged 0-4 years). The aim of the programme is to improve children’s language and communication skills before they enter formal education.

Storytime: a free programme of stories, rhymes and poems delivered on a regular or seasonal basis by Libraries NI staff for children aged 4-8 years.

7.     Regular library activities are defined as follows:

Creative Writing: groups led by library staff that provide facilities, support and encouragement to adults who enjoy writing poetry, short stories, novels and beyond. Budding writers or poets can come along and meet like-minded people and share ideas.

Genealogy: also known as family history and Libraries NI holds various related free activities for adults including talks, presentations and Ancestry Library Edition workshops. Ancestry Library Edition is an online resource which can be accessed free of charge in all libraries within the Libraries NI network (i.e. it is not available to use from external locations such as homes, offices etc.) and people attending the workshops or one-to-one sessions can use it to search a range of online records and discover information about their ancestors.

Go ON: a free programme to support people who are able to use a computer, email and the Internet and want to further develop their IT skills with regard to everyday computer tasks, such as paying utility bills or shopping online, online banking, social networking, digital photography, online health enquiries etc. The programme is aimed at adults and modules are delivered by Libraries NI staff on a small group basis.

Job Clubs: held in partnership with the Jobs & Benefits Office on library premises and offer free internet access and other library services to adults who are unemployed. They give people an opportunity to develop their IT skills using the library’s computers and participants receive assistance with job hunting, online applications, preparing CVs and interview practice. Other organisations (e.g. Job Assist, Kickstart to Work, Supported Employment Solutions etc.) use the library facilities to offer similar advice and services to the unemployed and therefore are also included from 2014/15 onwards.

Knit and Natter: groups held in libraries across Northern Ireland for adults who enjoy knitting, sewing, crochet, cross stitch and other crafts. They are free of charge and participants have the opportunity to share hints and tips, swap patterns, meet new people and learn new skills and can bring along whatever they are already working on or start a new project.

Mindful Colouring: groups for anyone who wants to explore the world of adult colouring with intricate colouring patterns and designs. They can enhance well-being, help calm the mind and relieve stress through relaxed, meditative colouring in.

Tea and Newspapers: groups giving adults the opportunity to meet new people, socialise and discuss local and national affairs in the newspapers while enjoying complimentary tea/coffee and biscuits.

8.     The statistics presented in this bulletin are ‘Official Statistics’ as defined in Section 6 of the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007. A statistician from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) is seconded to Libraries NI and is responsible for ensuring that the statistics comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

9.     All media enquiries should be directed to the Libraries NI Communications Officer: 

Lucy Finney
Libraries NI
Lisburn City Library
23 Linenhall Street
Co. Antrim
BT28 1FJ 

Tel:           028 9263 3361

10.  Further information on the statistics presented in this publication can be obtained from the NISRA Statistician: 

Moira McKee
Libraries NI
Ballymena Regional Admin HQ
25-31 Demesne Avenue
Co. Antrim
BT43 7BG 

Tel:           028 2566 4100