Recommendations for encouraging increased attendance at libraries and leisure centres

Posted by ap507 at Apr 09, 2018 09:40 AM |
AHRC funded project explores the link between geography and attendance rates at libraries and leisure centres

Issued by University of Leicester on 9 April 2018

New research, published as a publicly accessible report, has identified potential ways to encourage public attendance at libraries and leisure centres.

The report is the result of research undertaken by Dr Lisanne Gibson, Associate Professor, and Dr Varina Delrieu, Research Associate, of the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies and shows that geographic proximity to the home is important for the users of leisure centres, but a more complex picture emerges for attendance at libraries.

The study finds that individuals are more likely to attend a library as part of a trip-chain (the practice of undertaking more than one activity while out of the house) involving visits to other everyday leisure assets such as shops; thus, proximity to such facilities enables higher usage.

For leisure centres, the research found that the most important factors identified for users is distance from the home and the range of services and facilities on offer.

Dr Lisanne Gibson said: “Our research shows that libraries which are close to other everyday leisure facilities, such as shops, are in the main more popular. However, regardless of their proximity to shops or transport, some libraries which offered targeted services for particular communities were successful in attracting those user groups”.

“For leisure centres the picture was very different. Here we found that people attend regardless of a leisure centre’s proximity to other leisure assets; for leisure centres attendance was more a function of proximity to the home and the range of facilities and services on offer.”

The research focused on Manchester and Gateshead and included input from key local government stakeholders in those areas. The team hopes that the findings will be of use to local government culture and leisure services.

The report, ‘Understanding Everyday Participation: the effect of place and space on patterns of participation in libraries and leisure centres’, is available here:

The research is part of the £1.5 million project 'Understanding Everyday Participation- Articulating Cultural Values' funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Creative Scotland and led by Professor Andrew Miles at the University of Manchester. Additional information about the project including other publicly accessible project reports is available here:



Notes to editors:

For more information contact Dr Lisanne Gibson at

Key findings from the report include:

  • Geographic proximity to the home is important for the users of leisure centres, but a more complex picture emerges for libraries.
  • Opportunities for trip-chaining (the practice of undertaking more than one activity while out of the house) are an important factor in the use of libraries, but this aspect of asset attractiveness is not so important for leisure centre use.
  • Patterns of use in urban and suburban libraries reflect the impact of relative attractiveness (proximity to shops & transport links, longer opening hours), whereas peri-urban or rural libraries have much more localised usage.
  • Neighbourhood perception and personal attachment are influential factors in determining the use of particular libraries and leisure centres.
  • Standalone libraries and leisure centres are as likely to be used as those which are co-located together or with other services such as academies, community hubs or learning centres.
  • In the case of libraries, as there are relatively lower percentages of people using the local facility, the report has shown that multiple elements are considered when deciding which one to use. Some of these are associated with the local neighbourhood, both for trip-chaining and personal attachment reasons.

About the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

The Arts and Humanities Research Council funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe. You can find out more information via or following us on Twitter at @ahrcpress 


Share this page: