Yorkshire and Humberside’s libraries retain their visitor numbers


The Yorkshire and Humberside region has seen the UK’s smallest reduction in visitor numbers to its libraries, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Annual Libraries Survey.

The survey showed that the region has seen one of the smallest decreases to visitor numbers in 2013-14, after experiencing only a 0.2% reduction. This is compared to the national trend which saw library visitor numbers drop by 2%. The region also experienced a year-on-year growth in income from libraries of 9.2%, one of the highest in the UK.

Leeds Central Library is the region’s most visited library, with 681,375 visits per annum, and Harrogate Library had the most items issued in the area, at 356,688 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 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 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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Notes to editors

1. Headline figures from the latest CIPFA library statistics are available from www.cipfastats.net, 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

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. Regional library statistics:

Top 3 by number of visits per annum

Yorkshire & Humberside 
 Leeds Central Library 681,375
 Sheffield Central Library 677,101
 Kingston-upon-Hull Hull Central 507,491

Top 3 by number of issues per annum

Yorkshire & Humberside    
  North Yorkshire Harrogate 356,688
  Sheffield Central Library 347,732
  York York 345,167