Libraries in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

Libraries organize, collect and maintain a great variety of materials and information sources, from books by single authors to audiovisual media and historical documents like manuscripts, drawings and cartographic items. Public libraries often serve as key community resources—providing public access to technology, community gathering spaces, work spaces and adult education classes. Free internet access is one of the most important library services provided, according to library users in the United Kingdom.


The United Kingdom is home to over 4.1 thousand public libraries and 950 academic libraries, including the British Library, one of the largest in the world with collection holdings exceeding 150 million items. As of 2014, public libraries employed roughly 19.3 thousand individuals, but UK government expenditure on libraries has fallen in recent years, and the number of libraries is trending downward.

Library usage has also decreased. During the most recent year measured, 282 million visits were made to public libraries, down from a decade high of 347 million visits in the 2005/06 year. An estimated 33 percent of individuals in England visited a library in 2015, down from 48 percent in 2005.


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Libraries in the United Kingdom (UK) - Important statistics

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