More than 200 libraries closed last year, CIPFA stats reveal

More than 200 libraries have closed in the past year, according to figures published today by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

Their Annual Libraries Survey has found that across 2011-12, taking into account all closures and openings, the UK has lost 201 static and mobile libraries.

By comparison, In the 2010-11 survey, there was a loss of 33 library points. The survey also shows a continued fall in the number of library staff, with the full time equivalent number of staff down by 8%. In the previous year, the decline was at 4.3%.

In opposition to this, the number of volunteers at libraries has risen once again. This year, the rise in volunteers stands at 8.9%, while last year there was an increase of 22.3%. The number of visits made to libraries and the number of book issues has also declined alongside spending cuts and staff losses. The only area which has seen an increase in borrowings is children's fiction, which has risen is both this year and previously.

CIPFA's survey also revealed the busiest libraries in the UK. Top of the table for both number of visits and number of items issued was Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, which saw 1,343,828 visitors, and 1,184,345 items borrowed.

The other most visited libraries were Birmingham Central, Croydon Central, Newcastle City and Brighton Jubilee. Croydon's libraries are in the process of being transferred to be run by a private company, while library budgets in Newcastle have been slashed.

The libraries with the most borrowings after Norwich are Oxford Central, Chelmsford, Cambridge Central, and Cardiff Central.