Saturday 4 February 2017

Public Library usage stats down again, hmm I wonder why?

Before i start i'd just like to make it clear that i think footfall/usage stats are a noose around our necks and we should be concentrating more on social impact but sadly these blunt figures are what senior managers, council officers and councillors like to see on graphs.

According to a recent Guardian article and the latest DCMS data In 2005/6 48.2% of the population had used a library within that 12 month period and now it's down to 33.8%. Without getting too bogged down in detail the possible reasons for this decline, especially since 2010, can be laid out as;

8000+ paid/trained staff culled. (inc many qualified and specialist staff)
350+ libraries closed.
12-15% vol-led.
Opening hrs and budgets (inc book funds) slashed.

I'll also add to this;

No public library standards in England.
An ineffective distributive leadership model.
5yrs wasted on an Inquiry and then a report/strategy that some say is already out of date and only re-enforces government policy.
A minister, Rob Wilson, who has, like his predecessor Ed Vaizey, done nothing to intervene to halt cuts and closures.
A government agenda to undermine and offload the public sector.

I would further add;

An increase in self-service and staffless libraries.
An escalation in privatisation and commercialisation.
An erosion of the public library ethos and mission.
An over-focus on leisure.

But putting in its most simple terms if you have less staff and less libraries that are open for less time with less books then you have less usage, simples!

1 comment:

  1. This sums up the demise of the library services provided across the whole country.

    The bean counters only see figures on a spreadsheet. Users see the social and the health benefits regardless of how under used the local library is by the local community. To each individual user it is potentiallly a life line.

    Sadly closures will continue and the future of libraries may well be more are volunteer led to keep remaining ones open.

    If it is important enough to people they will find a way of keeping it open. Users have to look at themselves and decide if they value the library highly enough, and having been the recipent of its benefits over the years that now is the time to give something back. Not everthing is about money.

    The introduction of a national library service is something that should have been introduced many years ago. This would have created a national library card and thus costs would be reduced by it's buying power for the purchase of books.

    As for the future it seems that library users are the future librarians with less professionals sadly and this has to be accepted