The borough's libraries have witnessed the biggest drop in the number of people borrowing books in the country, new figures have revealed.
Borrowing statistics from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy released this week showed the number of books issued at the borough’s libraries fell by 571,761 between 2012 and 2014.
There were 628,709 books issued in 2014, compared with 1.2 million two years earlier.
This equates to a 47 per cent decrease, the largest fall in the country – followed by Newcastle-upon-Tyne where the number of books issued dropped by 43 per cent.
The dramatic reduction follows a series of library closures and community groups being forced to takeover the running of most of the borough’s remaining libraries due to cuts in funding.
Doncaster Council now runs just five of the town’s libraries, with the remaining 19 entrusted to volunteers.
Lauren Smith, who was a leading member of the Save Doncaster Libraries campaign, told The Free Press she does not find the fall in the number of books being borrowed surprising.
The 29-year-old, who also has a PhD in Librarianship, said: “The main reason I don’t find this surprising is that the lack of funding means there isn’t the new stock coming into the libraries, and branches closing down has reduced access to libraries in Doncaster.”
She added: “A lack of new stock means large print books and books on tape aren’t coming in, which are so important for providing access for older and disabled people.
“A lot of the older people I speak to say they have stopped going to the library because they’ve either read all of the books or can’t get get there.
“I had hoped that after the English Democrat Mayor was voted out and we had new leadership that things would be different, that the libraries would be looked after, but they haven’t been.
“The people running them don’t put any energy into the way they are run, they don’t seem to understand the social benefits of a library to a community.”
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy cited the rising use of e-readers coupled with funding cuts, library closures and reduced book stocks as factors in the big changes in the borrowing figures.