Norwich library most popular in UK for eighth year running


Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library has had the highest amount of visitors and issued more books than any other library in the UK for the eighth year running, according to the latest UK annual library survey issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

The achievement comes despite the East of England region undergoing one of the UK’s largest percentage reductions of book stocks in its libraries. In 2013-14 this saw the region reduce its total book stock by 6.8%, or 500,000 less books. Libraries in the region also lent one million fewer books than in the previous year.

The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library was the UK’s most popular local authority library with 1,274,204 visitors in 2013-14, and the library with the most items issued at 1,124,406 items in the year.

Speaking on the figures Drew Cullen, CIPFA’s Director of Communications, said:

“Norfolk and Norwich’s Millennium library is continuing to engage with its residents by attracting an impressive amount of visitors, more than anywhere else in the UK. The centre is also still the country’s biggest book lender, fighting against the national downward trend of dwindling borrower numbers.

“It’s is great to see the Millennium library maintaining its appeal to the public and remaining in the heart of the community.”

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.”


CIPFA press office
T: 020 7543 5600

Notes to editors

  1. Headline figures from the latest CIPFA library statistics are available from, with the full dataset available to subscribers. The information is for the local authority financial year 2013-14.
  2. For national library data from CIPFA please see the national press notice here.
  3. Popularity is defined in relation to the number of visits to the library and the number of stock issues.
  4. *As in previous years the number of library service points excludes libraries open for less than ten hours a week.
  5. The data only includes libraries in authorities that responded to the survey questionnaire. The response rate across the UK was 91%.
  6. Regional library statistics:

Top number of visits per annum


 Norfolk  Norfolk & Norwich Millennium  1,274,204
 Cambridgeshire  Cambridge Central  768,226
 Essex  Harlow  586,827

Top number of issues per annum


Norfolk    Norfolk & Norwich Millennium 1,124,406 
Cambridgeshire  Cambridge Central  555,101
Essex  Chelmsford  503,233