UK libraries update

Remember my despairing posts about the decline of UK libraries? Thanks to Tim Coates, a man who has campaigned against the decay of the service to the point of losing his livelihood and home due to being blackballed by the industry, here are some figures that illustrate the number of books that UK libraries have loaned out, compared with the amount of money spent on the services, and the percentage of that amount spent on books over the last decade:

Book lending

1995/6 —420m
1996/7 —411m
1997/8 —400m
1998/9 —389m
1999/0 —362m
2000/1 —343m
2001/2 —318m
2002/3 —305m
2003/4 —289m
2004/5 —280m
2005/6 figures not yet published

Expenditure on the public library service in England

1995/6 —£603m
1996/7 —£707m
1997/8 —£719m
1998/9 —£748m
1999/0 —£777m
2000/1 —£835m
2001/2 —£890m
2002/3 —£965m
2003/4 —£980m
2004/5 —£1,021m
2005/6 —£1,111m
2006/7 —£1,145m

Percentage of Library expenditure spent on books

1995/6 —11.6%
1996/7 —11.5%
1997/8 —10.2%
1998/9 —9.2%
1999/0 —9.0%
2000/1 —8.2%
2001/2 —8.0%
2002/3 —8.1%
2003/4 —7.4%
2004/5 —6.2%
2006/7 —5.8%

(Source: Govt: CIPFA and LISU)

If you care even a whit for the concept of a free library service that actually provides what the word ‘library’ implies it should provide, please email your MP or write to your local councillor NOW, before it’s too late. Unless something changes real soon, there will be no public library service in a decade – and you’ll miss it once it’s gone.

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