Press release: Library expenditure in Great Britain rises 3%


CIPFA’s annual library survey, published today, reveals total expenditure on libraries in Great Britain rose 3% to £12,551 per 1,000 people in 2022/23, from £12,143 in 2021/22. This increase in expenditure marks a positive shift in the year-on-year decrease since 2018/19, when total expenditure stood at £12,646 per 1,000 people.

The survey also shows that the income libraries received rose by 3% over the last financial year, which sees some welcome relief to the financial pressure on libraries as high inflation continues to increase their running costs. This is an increase from £916 per 1,000 people in 2021/22 to £939 per 1,000 people in 2022/23.

Following the end of the pandemic, in-person visits to libraries have increased by 71% since 2021/22, from 1,215 per 1,000 people in 2021/22 to 2,082 per 1,000 people in 2022/23. The number of books borrowed has also increased by 24% to 2,316 per 1,000 people, from 1,868 books in 2021/22.

Web visits have continued to fall during the same period to 1,703 per 1,000 people, which is a 26% decrease.

While staff levels have remained steady, the number of volunteers has shown significant recovery since 2021/22 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer numbers have risen from 0.34 per 1,000 people in 2021/22 to 0.59 over the last financial year, a 74% increase.

CIPFA CEO, Rob Whiteman, said:

“It’s encouraging to see service points and book issues increasing since the end of the pandemic, but while funding and income levels are slightly recovering, they still lag behind the rising demand for services. Libraries certainly require on-going support.”

“The fact that in-person visits and volunteers have dramatically recovered shows demand for library services is strong. Libraries are clearly valuable to the communities they serve. Sustained funding is crucial if they are to remain a vital part of the community.”

  2021/22   2022/23 Percentage change 
Total expenditure per 1,000 people £12,143  £12,551  3% 
Total revenue income per 1,000 people £916  £939  3% 
Total web visits per 1,000 people  2,302  1,703  -26% 
Total book issued per 1,000 people 1,868  2,316  24% 
Total physical visit per 1,000 people 1,215 2,082 71% 

Total volunteers per 1,000 people

0.34 0.59 74% 
Employees (FTEs) per 1,000 people 0.22 0.22 -1% 

Notes to Editor

CIPFA is the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

The time period for the data covers the 2022/23 financial year.

CIPFA’s annual library survey is sent to all local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. The figures for the 2022/23 financial year are based on a 61% response rate to the survey. Due to the bigger response rate for the 2022/23 financial year, there is a discrepancy between the 2021/22 data published today and the 2021/22 data published on 2 February 2023. The data has then been calculated to represent values per 1,000 people of the combined population of England, Scotland and Wales.

Figures have been presented as per 1,000 people to provide the most accurate data possible based on the survey response rate and to enable comparison to previous years.

Total revenue income for libraries includes specific grants, overdue charges, reservation fees, lettings, hire of audio and visual materials, electronic revenue, provision of library services to other local authorities, receipts from the public (e.g., photocopying), corporate income and other miscellaneous sources. The total expenditure is how much was spent on libraries by central and local government.

These statistics are based on provisional questionnaire returns from local authorities and are liable to adjustments and alterations before the final dataset is released.

If you have any further enquiries please visit the CIPFA press desk.

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