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Welsh local authorities have seen one of the UK’s largest percentage increases of income from its libraries, according to the latest library survey from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
Welsh libraries experienced a year-on-year increase of 18.5% in their total income, higher than anywhere else in the UK apart from Northern Ireland. The country was also the only area in the UK to have an increase in the number of libraries going from 307 to 308. However, Wales has had one of the largest reductions of visitors to its libraries, with a 3.3% drop from the previous year.
Cardiff Central is the country’s most visited library, with 537,846 visits per annum, while Lianelli, in Carmarthenshire had the most items issued, at 601,182 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 nationally the survey saw the continuation of many of the recent trends for 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 last 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 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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