December 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Great Britain Loses 200 Libraries in 2012

mtlibrary.jpgThe Guardian reported yesterday that the United Kingdom lost 200 libraries in 2012. That translates to 17 libraries a month.  Or at least one library every other day.  The number was higher than the previous year when Britain lost 146 libraries.

4,612 libraries remain open in the country.

In keeping with the decline, the UK also lost 8% of its librarians in 2012.  Volunteers in the library, however, increased by 9% in an effort to fill the staffing gap.  The impact on quality of service does not appear to have been studied in the primarily statistical analysis conducted by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting.

Library visits also decreased by 2.4% in 2012 to 306.6m, although the study does not appear to include online library visits. As libraries transition to offering more and more services online, the idea of what constitutes a "library visit" must also change.

The rate of loss, however, shows no signs of letting up. For example, Newcastle is currently engaged in a lengthy, public fight for its libraries. The council has proposed closing 10 of the city's 18 libraries.  The proposal has met with stiff opposition from citizens and literati around the country.

On a positive note, the larger, busier libraries around the country - especially those that are centrally located in major towns and cities - continue to perform well.