Manchester Central Library busiest in UK, nearly 2 million visits last year


Data released today by CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) shows Manchester Central Library is the most visited in the UK.

The city’s library had 1,891,135 visits in 2018/19, more than any other library in the country. The number of visits to Manchester Central represents a year-on-year increase of 20%, despite 7 million fewer visits to libraries nationally over the same period. 

In the North West region of England, Chester and Oldham libraries were the second and third busiest libraries behind Manchester Central. 

Analysis from CIPFA also revealed there has been a 29.6% decline in total national spend on libraries since austerity began in 2009/10. However, this year’s survey suggests things could be changing for libraries, with overall spend rising by 0.4% since 2017/18. 

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said:

“Manchester Central’s success is evidence that demand for modern and engaging library services remains strong amongst the general public. 

“However, while we have seen a small uptick in the amount spent on libraries over the last year, budgets remain tight, with spending remaining well below 2009/10 levels.

“This is the reality today’s local authorities are dealing with. With the election on the horizon, candidates should be having honest conversations with the public about the role of local government, and the future of lower priority services such as libraries.”

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, said: 

“Our £50m investment in the transformation of Central Library was an investment in the people of our city.  It is a treasured place, where all are welcome to develop their skills, enjoy cultural performances and exhibitions, access the internet, or simply spend time curled up with a great book - all for free. 

“We're extremely proud of Central Library's status as the most visited library in the UK and its place at the heart of a thriving citywide network of libraries, which provide invaluable community space, leisure and educational opportunities for our residents.”

There were 174,695,508 books issued to 7,505,485 active borrowers in Britain in 2018/19.


For further information please contact the CIPFA press office on T: 020 7543 5787 or E:

Notes to Editors 
  • The data sets can be found here: CIPFA Library Survey
  • A service point is any library, static or mobile, through which the public library authority provides or directly manages a service to the general public. A static service point must allow access to the general public (not just specific groups), and as a minimum, provide a staffed information point, stock loan facilities and a public access terminal. Departments within a single building should not be counted separately. Central libraries and branch libraries are counted as separate service points.

About CIPFA 
CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money. 

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