News

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.

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

You may be interested in revisiting the Minister, Ed Vaizey's, speech
to The Future of Library Services conference in London on the 28th of June 2012:
http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/ministers_speeches/9167.aspx

You will note that within it he announced the CIPFA survey that is the subject of this article.

Now that the results have been published, it would seem that the Minister's concluding remarks, viz:

"Conclusion: I remain resolutely optimistic about library services. I have never, even in opposition, depicted the library service as being in crisis."

might merit some reconsideration. Here is the evidence of a "crisis" that can no longer be disguised.

So, 200 and counting. Mr Vaizey seems to be living in the best of all possible worlds...

Still, no matter, as long as MPs and Lords have their libraries in the Houses of Parliament, and as long as government ministers have their high quality departmental libraries to refer to (e.g. IDS showing off his shiny new one in the pages of CILIP's "Update" (Dec 2012)), then it matters not that we, the voting fodder, are losing our accesss to libraries. In a financial crisis it is obviously reasonable to make the voting fodder do without public libraries; after all government is spending millions on protecting us under that expensive nuclear umbrella, not to mention two new aircraft carriers.

In the Middle Ages we were "arrow fodder". Who says there is no progress?

You may be interested in revisiting the Minister, Ed Vaizey's, speech
to The Future of Library Services conference in London on the 28th of June 2012:
http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/ministers_speeches/9167.aspx

You will note that within it he announced the CIPFA survey that is the subject of this article.

Now that the results have been published, it would seem that the Minister's concluding remarks, viz:

"Conclusion: I remain resolutely optimistic about library services. I have never, even in opposition, depicted the library service as being in crisis."

might merit some reconsideration. Here is the evidence of a "crisis" that can no longer be disguised.

So, 200 and counting. Mr Vaizey seems to be living in the best of all possible worlds...

Still, no matter, as long as MPs and Lords have their libraries in the Houses of Parliament, and as long as government ministers have their high quality departmental libraries to refer to (e.g. IDS showing off his shiny new one in the pages of CILIP's "Update" (Dec 2012)), then it matters not that we, the voting fodder, are losing our accesss to libraries. In a financial crisis it is obviously reasonable to make the voting fodder do without public libraries; after all government is spending millions on protecting us under that expensive nuclear umbrella, not to mention two new aircraft carriers.

In the Middle Ages we were "arrow fodder". Who says there is no progress?