The East Midlands region saw one of the UK’s largest percentage reductions of visitors to its libraries in the last financial year, according to the annual libraries survey issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
The region experienced a year-on-year drop of 4.8% in its visitor numbers, higher than any other region in the UK apart from the North East. The region also saw one of the largest decreases in spending on libraries with a 5.7% cut to net spending on libraries. Overall the region also now has four libraries less in 2013-14 than it did in the previous year*.
Chesterfield is the region’s most visited library, with 688,326 visits per annum, and it also had the most items issued in the area, at 471,792 items in 2013-14. This is compared to Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library which topped both polls across the UK with 1,274,204 visitors and 1,124,406 items issued.
The CIPFA annual library survey covers the whole of the UK and saw the continuation of many of the recent trends for local authority-run libraries.
The survey saw the total number of libraries fall to 4,145 in 2013-14, a net fall of 49 libraries and a drop of 1.2%. This is down from 4,482 in the last financial year of the previous Parliament in 2009-10, resulting in a total drop over the five years of 7.5% with a net loss of 337 libraries in the UK.
Visitors to libraries also fell, down 2% in the year to 282 million visits in 2013-14 and down from 322 million in 2009-10. Last year also saw a 6% decrease in the number of books lent from 262 million issues in 2012-13 to 247 million in 2013-14 and down from 309 million books lent in 2009-10, a drop over five years of 20%.
Commenting on the UK-wide data released by CIPFA on libraries in the UK, 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.
“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.”
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Top 3 by number of visits per annum
Derbyshire Chesterfield 688,326
Nottingham Nottingham Central 468,422
Nottinghamshire Mansfield 332,227
Top 3 by number of issues per annum
Derbyshire Chesterfield 471,792
Nottinghamshire West Bridgford 457,675
Nottingham Nottingham Central 294,346