Survey highlights differences in how girls and boys use libraries


A survey has shown that boys are more likely to visit libraries to play computer games while girls are more likely to visit them to do their homework. It also shows a significant increase in the use of libraries for toddler activities.

The Children’s Public Library Users Survey (PLUS) National Report has been published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). It features a survey of children at 1,203 libraries between April 2010 and March 2011.

One third of boys (33 per cent) surveyed said that they use library computers to play games compared to twenty seven per cent of girls. Conversely, twenty-seven per cent of girls said they use library computers for homework compared to twenty-two per cent of boys.

The survey also shows a marked increase in the number of children visiting libraries for toddler activities.

More than one third (34 per cent) of children surveyed had visited the library for an under-fives event. That number has increased from twenty-eight per cent since the 2007 – 2008 survey.

The survey also shows a range of other data including trends in book-borrowing habits and the extent to which the demographic profile of children who visit libraries impacts on usage.

Sarah Mears, Children Services Development Officer for Essex Libraries, said,

‘The Children’s Plus survey has always provided a useful means of assessing and comparing the impact of library services upon children and young people. This year’s report includes a new section mapping the Children’s PLUS data against the Index of Multiple Deprivation and I believe that Library Services across the country seeking to highlight their significance on local communities will find the results fascinating.

‘Providing evidence of impact has never been more important for library services and I would encourage all managers to take time to make the best possible use of this valuable report.’

Jon Graham, Managing Director of CIPFA Business, commented,

‘These statistics provide some fascinating findings, particularly the differences between libraries in deprived areas where children are more likely to be older and visit on their own, compared to more affluent areas where children visiting libraries are generally younger and more likely to be read to by their parents. It is also interesting to note the trend suggesting an increase from 2007 in library activities beyond borrowing books.’


Contact: Lindsay Machin / Tim Windle
CIPFA Press Office
t 020 7543 5645/5787
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About The Children’s Public Library Users Survey (PLUS) National Report

The Children’s Public Library Users Survey (PLUS) National ReportThe Children's Public Library Users Survey (Children's PLUS) is a national model for surveying child and teenage visitors to public libraries.  The questionnaire focuses on various aspects of the library service, for example book and computer usage and general attitudes to these resources and to the library overall.  The survey also asks children and young people for their age and gender and who they came with, as these can provide useful information about the profile of visitors using the library. Children's PLUS proposes a uniform methodology where questions are asked in the same order to achieve consistency for valid national, regional and local comparisons.  The importance of the survey is that it has been designed to be used as a service improvement tool, rather than as merely a measurement or a 'number crunching' tool.

A total of sixty three authorities contributed data to this report, resulting in a database containing 22,801 questionnaires from 1,203 libraries.

In a departure from the previous report for Children’s PLUS, which compared results for individual participating library authorities, this report on the 2010/11 survey focuses on the combined national data set. It analyses the data at the headline level, over time, demographically and by the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

This approach has been adopted as it provides a better understanding of the uses to which libraries are being put, the factors that influence such usage and users’ satisfaction with the resources available.

The Children’s Plus National Report is freely available to PLUS subscribers or it can be purchased for £495 (+VAT) from the CIPFA shop ( If you have any questions or queries regarding access then please email


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services. This includes the development of local professional qualifications in African countries like Lesotho and Nigeria and in Europe in post conflict states in the Balkans.