The Culture, Media and Sport Committee of Parliament’s House of Commons conducted an inquiry into library closures. Of 140 local (government) authorities who operate public libraries, only sixteen responded to the inquiry with written statements, whereas thirty-three library user and campaign groups responded, according to the blog Voices for the Library. On February 9, 2012, Parliament posted the statements online as “Written Evidence accepted by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee for its inquiry into Library closures.”
On December 10, 2012, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) published its UK Annual Libraries Survey. It demonstrated a “reduction in the number of libraries occurred in 2011-2012” and “shows a continued increase in the number of volunteers and a continued decrease in the number of staff. The full time equivalent number of staff is down by 8%, compared to a 4.3% reduction in the previous year, while the number of volunteers has increased by 8.9% compared to a 22.5% increase last year.”
Although children’s fiction saw an increase in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, the combination of reduced library funding and a drop in library visits has led to an overall decrease in the number of books libraries have lent out. Julian Mund, CIPFA’s Product Development Director, commented, “Local authorities across the UK are working hard to identify savings and reduce their spending. Although there has been a large increase in the number of libraries and mobile libraries closing, it is important to note that the largest, most popular and most viable libraries are largely staying open.”
Mund added, “An increase in the number of children’s fiction books issued and the increase in volunteers shows how libraries continue to be seen as much valued hubs for their communities.”
There has been a -5.1% reduction in net expenditure for libraries (£1,066,410 in 2010-11 and £1,011,506 in 2011-12). Since 2007-08, the number of library staff members has precipitously declined, while the number of library volunteers has skyrocketed so that there are now more volunteers than staff members at British libraries.
In 2007-08, there were 25,769 staff members and 15,008 volunteers; in 2008-09, there were 25,648 staff members and 15,894 volunteers; in 2009-10, there were 24,746 staff members and 17,550 volunteers; in 2010-11, there were 23,663 staff members and 21,494 volunteers; and in 2011-12, there were 21,780 staff members and 23,397 volunteers.
Between 2009-2010 and 2011-12, the number of library visits dropped 2.4%. In 2009-10, there were 322,111 library visits; in 2010-11, there were 313,987 library visits; and 2011-12, there were 306,591 library visits for a 2.4% reduction. There were 12,078 active borrowers in 2009-10, 11,920 active borrowers in 2010-11, and 11,412 active borrowers in 2011-12 for a 4.3% reduction.
The most popular library in the U.K., both in terms of the number of visits and the number of loans, was the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium in Norfolk. It had 1,343,828 visits and 1,184,435 loans.
 CIPFA describes itself as “the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services.”