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We’re richer! We’re richer!


Spending on libraries in Britain has fallen by 17%, according to new statistics, despite in-person visits increasing by 68% since the pandemic.

Figures released by CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, show that in 2021/22 £9,982 was spent per 1,000 people on libraries by central and local government in England, Scotland and Wales. This was down from £11,970 in 2020/21 and £12,646 in 2018/19.

The money libraries made, from sources including grants, overdue charges, reservation fees, hire of audio and visual materials and corporate income, also decreased, falling 24% from £868 per 1,000 people in 2020/21 to £660 in 2021/22.

The fall in investment and income comes at a time when in-person visits to libraries increased by 68%, from 915 per 1,000 people in 2020/21 to 1,536 in 2021/22. The number of books borrowed has also increased by 58% to 1,767 per 1,000 people, from 1,119 in 2020/21.

Well now, that’s a significant rise in productivity, isn’t it? So, how do we get the rest of government to match that?

7 thoughts on “We’re richer! We’re richer!”

  1. I notice they don’t even try to measure whether the customers were getting better or worse service, let’s just focus on inputs why don’t we?

  2. Of course I love rummaging around in libraries. But it doesn’t sound as though they’re diminishing their services. So I suppose I won’t throw a tantrum just yet.

  3. The first obvious reason why this is utter crap is comparing anything to what was happening in lockdown.

  4. When I were younger, a visit to pretty much any library would present me with a great range of periodicals from Nature via Flight International to even Viz at some. These days the periodical section is sparse so I rarely go into a public library. Of course the Web is now awash with the sort of tech stuff I read and use so it’s no great loss to me.

  5. Exactly, TG. When I were a lad in the 60s, the village, town* and school libraries were a very important source of learning and entertainment. But today, almost all of that is freely available on the Internet. If there’s any point to public libraries these days, it’s to provide assistance in locating resources on the web.

    * where my uncle was deputy librarian

  6. I wouldn’t get excited Tim. 2020/21 included lockdowns. That productivity increase is probably just not paying for closed libraries.

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