IT MAY be nearly 50 years old, but a classic children’s picture book is the most borrowed library item in Oxfordshire this year.

Where the Wild Things Are was loaned out more this year than contemporary children’s fiction like Harry Potter and all adult fiction.

Children’s literature dominated the list of the five most frequently borrowed items in the year up to last November.

The statistics, gained from an Oxford Mail freedom of information request, show that in the gadget-driven age children are still drawn to libraries.

Librarian Alison Pearce, 51, who works at Cowley Library in Temple Road, said: “We have a lot of pre-school children who come in on a Wednesday morning but the majority are after school time or in the holidays.”

The top book, published in 1963 was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, has sold over 19 million copies worldwide.

It was adapted into a feature film in 2009.

Mrs Pearce added the library had issued the book 75 times in the past month.

She said: “Looking at it the pictures are beautiful. It is something that encourages the children to use their imagination and creativity.”

A total of 7,857 ebooks have been borrowed since a new service offering them at the county’s libraries started in March.

The most borrowed ebook is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Oxfordshire County Council could not say what the most borrowed book was the previous year.

Meanwhile statistics showed that library fines have fallen.

Last year £172,178.26 was collected compared to £189,703.35 the year before.

County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “The library service is largely free if you stick to the rules, and offers access to an almost unrivalled stock of books, films, newspapers, magazines. We actually try to make it as easy as possible to avoid generating fines.”

A total of £49,327.74 was outstanding as of November 27, for items not returned in the previous six years. This compares to £83,535.78 outstanding in the six years before that.

Mr Crabtree added: “Fines are there to encourage people to return their books on time or renew them, they are not intended as a way of making money.

“People can now receive alerts and renew their books online when they are close to being due back. This is one reason why the amount of fines owed has reduced.

Five people were banned from using facilities at Oxford Central Library this year for reasons other than borrowing.

Examples of these reasons include refusing to pay fines, habitually keeping items overdue or inappropriate behaviour.



THE five most issued items from November 26, 2011, to November 25, 2012 were:

  • Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (977 issues)
  • The Affair, by Lee Child (858)
  • The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson (833)
  • Death comes to Pemberley, by PD James (834)
  • Where’s Wally? The Fantastic Journey, by Martin Handford (823).