MORE than 100,000 extra people used libraries in Cheshire West between April and September compared to the same time last year.

Figures presented to members of Cheshire West and Chester Council on Tuesday show that by the middle of 2018-19, 893,523 people had used CWAC libraries, compared to 789,688 by the same time last year.

CWAC says it is on track to smash its target for 2018-19, when it hopes that more than 1.4 million people use its libraries.

Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “I’m really delighted – we are bucking the trend and it is down to the library staff across the borough who are doing a great job.

“The Storyhouse factor has had a real effect across the borough – I think it has shown that libraries can be more than what they were.

“The number of memberships has increased, as well as the number of books taken out, so it is an increase in the number of people being engaged with our libraries which is fantastic.”

Storyhouse, in Chester, opened last year as the city’s new public library, theatre and cinema – all in one space.

A report presented at Tuesday’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting said that Storyhouse has been a major contributor to the success of the borough’s libraries.

By September, 72,020 items of stock had been borrowed from the library at Storyhouse, while 540 youngsters took part in the Summer Reading Challenge.

However, the number of people who have visited CWAC’s museums in 2018-19 has slightly decreased year-on-year – from 89,947 by September 2017, to 71,243 at the same time this year.

Despite the drop, CWAC still expects to beat its target of 130,873 museum visitors for 2018-19.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Gittins added: “It is quite disappointing that the numbers are declining because the figures were showing really well.

“I think the whole of the team are working really hard to encourage [visitors]. We are trying to make things more family-friendly across our museums, and I am hoping that this is just a glitch, and it will improve.”

CWAC’s library service team has been recognised for its success with a nomination for a Guardian Public Service Award – with the winners set to be revealed on November 27.