The South West has seen an increase in the number of libraries in the region, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Annual Libraries Survey. This is against the trend for libraries across the rest of the UK.
The region experienced a year-on-year net increase in libraries with two opening during this period*, the largest in the UK. However, the region is one of only a few areas to see a reduction in its income, down 1.1% in 2013-14.
The Central Library in Bristol is the region’s most visited, with 588,482 visits per annum, and Salisbury Library issued the most items in the area, at 325,562 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 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
Bristol Central Library, College Green 588,482
Bath & North East Somerset Bath Central 484,632
Cornwall Truro 442,651
Top 3 by number of issues per annum
Wiltshire Salisbury 325,562
Bristol Central Library, College Green 315,972
Somerset Taunton 310,779