Laura Sharman 11 December 2014

Survey shows extent of pressure on library services

The number of libraries, visitors and books borrowed has continued to decline in the past year, according to new figures.

The annual library survey, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA), shows that 49 libraries closed year, representing a drop of 1.2%.

The number of library visitors also fell by 2%, from 288 million in 2012-13 to 282 million in 2013-14. In the same time period, the number of active library borrowers dropped by 4.2%, and the number of books borrowed fell by 6%.

CIPFA’s chief executive, Rob Whiteman, said: ‘The landscape for local libraries in the UK is changing rapidly. While local authorities are continuing to seek new ways to make sure libraries can continue to act as a vital part of our communities, the statistics show that there is significant pressure on library services across pretty much every area of the UK.’

However, the survey did reveal that the number of volunteers working in a library has increased by 5.9% to 35,813 people. In 2009, this figure stood at 17,550.

‘Despite the decline of libraries, borrowers and books, the growth in volunteers show that many local councils are committed to ensuring that their libraries explore new ways of keeping the doors open and engaging with their communities,’ Whiteman added.

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