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The Globe and Mail

Library use in Toronto surges in 2011, new figures show

Toronto Public Library staff Shinta Martina places books on the shelves of the St. James Town branch on Sherbourne Street.

Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

As city councillors spend the next week mulling reductions to branch hours, libraries across the city have just tallied up their busiest year ever.

New user stats released to the Globe and Mail show that the Toronto Public Library system circulated 33 million books, e-books, DVDs and other items in 2011, up one million from 2010.

The number of people borrowing those items also surged by one million, from 18 million in 2010 to 2011 last year.

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Those are record figures for the third year in a row, according to TPL spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.

Computer use shot up by 6.5 per cent and information requests increased by 3.5 per cent.

The city's Executive Committee on Thursday is debating a 10 per cent cut to the library budget, 4 per cent deeper than the city-appointed library board recommended late last year.

That decision could trigger a belt-tightening proposal to trim open hours at 54 branches by over 19,000 hours. Several members of Mayor Rob Ford's executive are expected to introduce a motion Thursday that would endorse the 10 per cent cut, but block the city from imposing hour reductions.

All recommendations coming out of executive will go to a full City Council meeting next week.

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