September 25, 2021

Report: 25 Million Books are Missing From UK Public Libraries – But Who’s Counting?

From The Guardian:

The decline in books stocked by public libraries may be far worse than official figures indicate, with industry sources claiming that it may be many millions higher than the 25 million books recorded as missing, meaning that the number of books available to borrowers has plummeted by more than 50% since 1996.

Librarians are calling for a national audit to reveal the true extent of the problem, with the news coming as the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) sent an open letter to chancellor Philip Hammond calling on him to increase funding for the sector, to protect it from irreparable decline as part of his strategy for economic growth.

Official figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy for library books stood at 52.3 million at the end of 2016, a drop of almost 25 million since 1996. But that number reflects computer records rather than physical stock checks made by librarians. Earlier this week, it emerged that libraries in Suffolk had 10,000 fewer books than listed on its database after an inventory count by librarians. Insiders said similar disparities were likely to be reflected across the 151 library authorities in England and Wales because cutbacks had reduced librarians’ ability to do shelf counts.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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