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?