Library Facts

Libraries come in many different shapes and sizes, from your local public library to huge University libraries, you will find a library in almost every organisation and community. On this page, we've brought together some key facts and figures about libraries, what they do and the difference they make!

How many libraries are there?

We estimate that there are more than 35,000 libraries* in the UK. This includes: 

  • 3,500 public libraries
  • 6,000 school libraries
  • More than 600 University or Academic libraries
  • 3 National Libraries!

(Source: CILIP statistics provided to the IFLA Library Map of the World, 2018)


How many people visit libraries?

We don't have visitor figures for every type of library. However, we do know that each year, there are more than 225 million in-person visits to public libraries, with another 96 million online visits (source: CIPFA Annual Library Statistics). 

Around 33% of the UK population has used their local public library in the last 12 months (source: DCMS Taking Part Survey). 

Around 75% of the UK population say their local library is a valuable part of their community, whether they use it regularly or not (source: Carnegie UK Trust 'Shining a Light' report)


Who visits libraries?

Again, the visitor profile will depend a lot on the type of library. We do know some interesting facts about who uses local public library services across the UK (source: Carnegie UK Trust 'Shining a Light' report):

  • The biggest audience of library users are people between 15-24 years old
  • Women are around 10% more likely to use their library than men 
  • People in Scotland use their library more often than anywhere else in the UK
  • People in households with children are around 15% more likely to use the library
  • People in socio-economic group ABC1 are more likely to use their library than C2DE


How many books get borrowed?

It's impossible to estimate how many books are currently on circulation. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, estimates suggest that there were as many as 4m physical books out on loan from UK Universities.

Public libraries hold an estimated 75 million books in stock, producing a total of around 175 million loans each year (source: House of Commons Briefing on Public Libraries, 2019)


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