MORE families with primary school children in Scotland are using public libraries than five years ago, new research claims.

A philanthropic trust’s research found libraries are now being used more frequently by those households who are "just about managing" financially.

More than 70 per cent of households with primary school aged children in Scotland are using public libraries, according to a new study published today by the Carnegie UK Trust which reveals trends in library use across the UK.

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It claimed that, overall, half of the Scottish population now identify themselves as library users.

Whilst this represents an 11 percentage point drop in library use since 2011, when 61 per cent of people used the library, Scotland continues to have the highest level of library use across all four UK nations.

Pamela Tulloch, one of Scotland's top librarians, welcomed the report and said that while "it is clear from the research that public libraries in Scotland have an enduring place in people’s hearts and that they are highly valued services.

"We need to ensure that libraries continue to prosper and deliver against key policy goals and wellbeing."

The news comes as Gruffalo author Julie Donaldson added her voice to a national campaign that champions Scotland's library services.

Ms Donaldson, who lived in Bearsden before moving back to her native south-west of England, had earlier won important backing for her campaigning to secure the role of school librarians from cutbacks from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who said that "the role a librarian plays in encouraging positive attitudes to reading and enhancing information literacy skills for our learners is a very important one".

More than 60 per cent of people in the second lowest socio-economic classification now report using a library at least once a month.

There has also been a rise in the use of libraries in Scotland by "occasional" readers, or people who read a book every two or three months.

Attracting these groups is good news for Scottish public libraries as they seek to increase footfall and protect funding, researchers said.

However, the trust’s unique research also confirms that libraries face a number of significant challenges, including a steady decline in the number of "frequent" library users in Scotland.

Martyn Evans, chief executive of Carnegie UK Trust, said that libraries must make a persuasive case for continued investment in staff and services if they are to continue to meet the needs of local communities.

He said: “It’s extremely promising that there’s been a rise in library use in Scotland amongst households with primary school aged children, as well as an increase in frequent use among a key socio-economic group.

"However, we know that the future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to the changing needs of their communities.

"All of us who value libraries’ rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.

"We also know that the public want libraries to do even more."

The Shining a Light report is the result of a five-year study by the Carnegie UK Trust and IPSOS Mori into public library use in the UK and Ireland.

The report is the only one of its kind, enabling data on changing use and attitudes towards library services to be compared across the individual jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland.

Around 10,000 interviews were conducted, 1,000 of which were in Scotland.