Library volunteers surge, closures continue

The latest survey into libraries shows that 74 libraries closed across the UK last year, while spending on libraries is predicted to decline by 10% between 2012 and 2014.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) UK Annual Libraries Survey, published today, also showed that while staff numbers working in libraries is falling, the number of volunteers has soared as councils have looked for cheaper ways to keep library services open.

The number of staff employed by libraries is down some 6.8% year on year, in contrast with a 44% increase in the number of volunteers helping at libraries in 2012-13. In 2008, libraries employed 25,648 staff - that is now down to 20,302. The compares with a surge in volunteer numbers from 15,894 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2013.

Library expenditure has also declined by 4.5%% from last year and the survey expects a total reduction in expenditure of 10.1% from 2011 to 2014.

Book issues are down, now standing at 262,762 - an 8.6% decline from 2010 (300,004) - which is a measure of the closures, plus the decline in bookstock. Bookstock is down from 98,945 in 2010 to 92,181 in 2013, a 2.3% decline. There was also a fall in visitor numbers to libraries, down by 6%.

The number of electronic workstations available to users per 10,000 population has also declined from 6.98 in 2010 to 6.74 in 2012/13.

There is some better news for libraries but only that the number of library closures has slowed in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12, with 74 libraries closing in the year compared to 201 closures the previous year.

Speaking on the libraries data, CIPFA's Chief Executive Rob Whiteman said: "Local authorities across the UK have worked hard over the past few years to identify savings and reduce their spending but now also seem to be looking at new ways of keeping their libraries open to the public.

"While the number of libraries and staff have fallen again, this has slowed. However the surge in volunteer numbers would suggest that libraries are searching for new and innovative ways to engage and serve their communities."

The busiest libraries across the UK are as follows:

1) Norfolk - Norfolk & Norwich Millennium library

1,273,416 visitors

2) Brighton & Hove - Brighton Jubilee library

974,890 visitors

3) Newcastle upon Tyne - Newcastle City library

927,831 visitors

4) Greenwich - Woolwich library

889,504 visitors

5) Croydon - Croydon Central library

882,144 visitors

6) Dundee - Central Library Dundee

779,424 visitors

7) Cambridgeshire - Cambridge Central library

778,492 visitors

8) Leeds - Leeds Central library

741,518 visitors

9) Hounslow - Hounslow library

730,053 visitors

10) Worcestershire - The Hive Worcester library

718,255 visitors

10/12/2013Library volunteers surge, closures continue

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