Bookworms, film buffs and music lovers borrowed more than one million items from Lake Macquarie libraries in the past 12 months.
True crime and children’s books were among the hottest items.
Lake Macquarie City Council’s cultural services manager Jacqui Hemsley said a snapshot of library stats reflected the ongoing importance of public libraries in the community.
“The days of libraries being dark, silent places where fun is off limits are long gone,” Ms Hemsley said.
“Books will always be central to our libraries in one form or another, but now more than ever they are also a place to have fun, learn and socialise.”
Lake Macquarie City Council has 10 public libraries across the city, as well as its Rover mobile lending van.
Combined, the 10 libraries recorded almost 700,000 visits in the past 12 months.
The number of public programs held in Lake Mac libraries, ranging from children’s reading sessions to craft workshops for seniors, increased 16 per cent in 2017-2018.
Program attendance also grew steadily.
The number of digital loans, including e-books and e-magazines, grew by more than 12 per cent to 162,286.
Ms Hemsley said the city’s library collection included almost 214,000 items, some dating back to the 1890s.
“These include 19th century employment records, books from the early 20th century and items of historical significance,” Ms Hemsley said.
Mayor Kay Fraser said public libraries were a wonderful community resource.
“Almost everyone has fond memories of visiting a library as a child,” Cr Fraser said.
“I encourage families to get out there and make sure our youngest generation enjoys those same special times.”
Lake Macquarie mum Amanda Boughey and her four children visit Lake Mac libraries “at least once a week”.
As well as using libraries to borrow books and DVDs, Ms Boughey takes her family to a variety of school holiday programs and weekly reading sessions.
“It’s such a social place and a place where you can learn,” Ms Boughey said.
“We can get new books without having to buy them, but it’s also great for things like coding club for my son, Cameryn, and Babies into Books sessions for my youngest daughter Scarlett.”