West Midlands’ libraries experience sharp growth in revenue

Call to maintain library services.

The West Midlands region has seen the UK’s third highest percentage increase of income from its libraries, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Annual Libraries Survey.

The region experienced year-on-year growth of 11.5% in its total amount of income in 2013-14. The region has also seen one of the smallest decreases to its visitor numbers, after experiencing only a 1.2% reduction in visitors to its libraries.

Worcester Hive library is the region’s most visited, with 978,119 visits per annum, and it also had the most items issued in the area, at 903,859 items in 2013-14. This is compared to Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library which topped both polls across the UK with 1,274,204 visitors and 1,124,406 items issued.
CIPFA annual library survey covers the whole of the UK and nationally the survey saw the continuation of many of the recent trends for local authority run libraries.

The survey saw the total number of libraries fall to 4,145 in 2013-14, a net fall of 49 libraries and a drop of 1.2%. This is down from 4,482 in the last financial year of the last Parliament in 2009-10, resulting in a total drop over the five years of 7.5% with a net loss of 337 libraries in the UK.

Visitors to libraries also fell, down 2% in the year to 282 million visits in 2013-14 and down from 322 million in 2009-10. Last year also saw a 6% decrease in the number of books lent from 262 million issues in 2012-13 to 247 million in 2013-14 and down from 309 million books lent in 2009-10, a drop over five years of 20%.

Commenting on the UK-wide data released on libraries in the UK, CIPFA’s Chief Executive Rob Whiteman said: “The landscape for local libraries in the UK is changing rapidly. While local authorities are continuing to seek new ways to make sure libraries can continue to act as a vital part of our communities, the statistics show that there is significant pressure on library services across pretty much every area of the UK.

“Despite the decline of libraries, borrowers and books, the growth in volunteers show that many local councils are committed to ensuring that their libraries explore new ways of keeping the doors open and engaging with their communities.”