The number of people visiting libraries in Rhondda Cynon Taf has fallen by 26% in the wake of a widespread council closure programme, Plaid Cymru can reveal.
Figures obtained by the Party of Wales under the Freedom of Information Act show that visitor numbers fell from 1,205,955 in 2013-14 to 894,896 – a drop of 311,059 –in the year following Labour-run Rhondda Cynon Taf Council ordered a package of closures.
The council has provided a breakdown library-by-library of usage since 2013-14.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM, who lives in the Rhondda, said: "This shows the impact of library closures. Two years ago I warned about the effect on local communities and literacy rates.
"It is clear that many people, whose local libraries have shut, have just stopped going to a library, perhaps because the alternatives are further away from their homes.
"The council’s latest proposals - published in November - to cut branch libraries, introduce single staff branches and cut the book fund will see a further eroding of the service to the public and another fall in people borrowing books. It is also planned to reduce the number of librarians by 15, at a time when the number employed by library services has fallen from 87 in 2013 to 64 at present."
Leanne Wood added: "In Penygraig, we have lost the library but the community are rallying and are about to reopen but other communities have not been so fortunate."