Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Data to drive decisions

Public Library Profiles

Offering access to knowledge, culture and a range of community services, public libraries play a fundamental role in society. We conduct an annual survey of public libraries across the UK to gather data on service costs and performance. We then produce annual reports to help inform councils’ modernisation and improvement strategies.

CIPFA's Public Library Profiles reports present a detailed view of how one library service compares to others of similar authorities that have been identified using our Nearest Neighbours Model tool.

Highly popular, they provide decision-makers with a quick, inexpensive way to engage with the most recent data to support evidence-based decision making.

We look at the following key aspects of services provision:

  • numbers of libraries and service users
  • costs of running library services
  • levels of staffing and volunteers
  • annual book and audio-visual issues
  • stock and acquisition levels
  • performance in relation to speed of requests
  • user satisfaction

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sponsors the reports, making them freely accessible to all English authorities. You can download them via this page. The reports are available to purchase for authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Download this case study to see how CIPFA's cost, performance and analytics tools have assisted the London Borough of Southwark with its improvement strategy and operational transformation projects, to help modernise services to better serve customers.

The comparative profiles pack

You will be provided with a libraries profile pack, tailored to your individual authority and containing three sets of profiles, which compare your authority to:

  • all responding library authorities across the UK
  • all other library authorities within your region (or country for Wales and Scotland)
  • your nearest neighbour

In addition, you will receive an interactive Excel tool that enables you to analyse the data further and export charts for your own reports. You will also be able to request an additional profile compared with any selection of authorities at no additional charge.


There are a number of benefits from signing up:

  • professional reports from a trusted source to help with your transformation projects
  • no additional work required as they draw on data returns already made
  • help you to understand the performance of your service better
  • identify potential areas for savings and improvement
  • identify authorities who are performing well
  • saves you time and money on analysing the data yourself
  • provides evidence for performance assessments

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Related Products

DCMS funded Report 2020

DCMS sponsored the 2019/20 Excel Interactive Report for all English library authorities

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DCMS Funded Reports 2019

Find the CIPFAstats Library Profiles English Authorities 2019 here.

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DCMS Funded Reports 2018

Find the CIPFAstats Library Profiles English Authorities 2018 here.

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DCMS Funded Reports 2017

Find the CIPFAstats Library Profiles English Authorities 2017 here.

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DCMS Funded Reports 2016

Download reports comparing each English library authority that returned data.

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Data-Driven Decisions

People and organisations across the globe gather and analyse data to make more informed decisions

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