Manchester libraries survey: Libraries reduce feelings of loneliness


Data released today by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) revealed that libraries can help combat feelings of loneliness.

As part of the Manchester Libraries User Survey, four in ten respondents reported experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation from others. Respondents who indicated that they often or sometimes experience feelings of loneliness were asked whether the library helped combat these feelings. More than eight in ten of this group agreed that it did.

The survey also indicated that respondents felt the library served as both an information hub and community centre, providing visitors with an opportunity to meet other people and engage in social activities.

CIPFA’s annual library figures also revealed that Manchester Central Library was the most visited in Great Britain for the second year in a row, with 2,022,641 visits (up from 1.9 million in 2018/19).

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said:

‘‘The results of the recent survey of Manchester libraries indicates that community centres such as public libraries are still incredibly important, especially as we enter a period of uncertainty following the pandemic.

‘‘Local authorities are facing difficult decisions. Moving forward, it will be more important than ever for councils to be given the power to make their own choices about how crucial community resources such as libraries will be prioritised.’’

Wembley Library in Brent was the second most visited library in Britain with 1.4 million visits, followed by Woolwich Library in Greenwich with over 1.1 million visits.

CIPFA annual library figures revealed that total spending on libraries in Britain decreased by nearly £20m over the past year, a reduction of 2.6% from 2018/19.

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

"Our libraries are vital hubs which improve the quality of individual lives and the communities they serve. That's why they are so well used and why we're pleased and proud that Central Library was Britain's busiest public library in 2019/20, for the second year running. 
"We were keen to work with CIPFA on piloting research into how libraries make a difference for people who have experienced loneliness and isolation. This research has confirmed what we've always believed – libraries make people less lonely and more engaged with their communities. 
"We know that residents' health and wellbeing is improved by using their local library and wanted to help in measuring and demonstrating that people feel better when they use their local library."

A Manchester library user said:

“I come at least once or twice a week; the library is an essential community resource for me and my daughter. My mum used to bring me to libraries as a child. They are safe and welcoming spaces that we are lucky to have.”

There were a total of 165,885,367 books issued and 7.3 million active borrowers in Britain in 2019/20.

Notes to editors:

  • The research on Manchester libraries and loneliness and isolation was completed in February 2020. The full report can be found here.
  • The CIPFA Library Survey 2019/20 data was collected until March 2020. No data was collected during the lockdown period. Data sets can be found here.
  • Libraries Connected survey data revealed that 75% of libraries continued to deliver services online during lockdown.
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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