Administrative data sourced from Malta Libraries by the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicate that, in 2017, total book loans stood at 910,976, an increase of 66,378 or 7.9 per cent over the preceding year.
The most significant increases in book loans were registered by public libraries in the South Eastern and Northern districts (19.4 and 19.2 per cent respectively). The public libraries in Żejtun, Qrendi, Marsaxlokk, Gudja and Mqabba registered increases of over 20 per cent. While the libraries in Żurrieq and Birżebbuġa reported the highest drops in book loans, equivalent to 7.4 and 2.2 per cent respectively, when compared to 2016 levels.
The highest increases in book loans in the Northern district were registered in Ħal Għargħur and Mosta, both of which exceeded 30 per cent. On the other hand, the only drop in book loans in this district was registered in Mġarr, which recorded a decrease of 2.9 per cent.
In Gozo and Comino, the overall decrease in book loans was mainly triggered by the lesser amount of books loaned from the Qala, Nadur and Żebbuġ public libraries, with loans decreasing by 32.4, 26.2 and 19.1 per cent respectively. Conversely, increases of 36.0 and 32.8 per cent, were recorded in Għarb and Sannat.
In 2017, book acquisitions amounted to 45,991, up by 2.1 per cent when compared to the preceding year. Book purchases and donations to public libraries increased by 6.1 and 1.1 per cent respectively. The main source of acquisition continued to be book donations which made up nearly three out of four book acquisitions.
Last year, the number of books and periodicals received by the National Library of Malta under legal deposit reached 1,340, an increase of 30.7 per cent when compared to 2016. The share of periodicals accounted for 64.4 per cent of these deposits.
Both imports and exports of printed book material and periodicals during 2017 declined when compared to the preceding year and stood at €13.2 and €5.4 million respectively. In 2017, the value of imports declined by 22.7 per cent, while exports fell by 14.2 per cent. This corresponded to a decrease of 0.1 percentage point in the private final consumption expenditure on printed material.