Key Statistical Sources for the UK Library and Information Sector
This listing of key statistical sources covers the main library and information sectors. It also covers topics that are of especial concern to CILIP and these relate to freedom of access to information/privacy and literacies (including basic literacy, information literacy and digital literacy). A few more general statistical sources are included notably the UK Office of National Statistics and the database of Indicators for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. All library and information services can be better understood within their broader economic, societal and institutional contexts and each needs to define how it can best respond and help shape the environment in which it operates.
One factor that restricted the compilation of this List – so many relevant statistics are behind paywalls or available to members only. This may be understandable in commercial sectors but it is true also of many parts of the public sector. This not only impedes true accountability but it also makes service planning and advocacy more difficult. It is an issue which CILIP wants to address with other stakeholders in our sector as part of the process of developing an evidence base for the sector as a whole.
Please notify us of any useful statistical sources that have been missed from this list or any errors that you have spotted
General Library and Information Statistics
Copyright (and Intellectual Property)
Freedom of Access to Information/Privacy
Further Education Libraries
Health & Social Care
1. Office for National Statistics. (online). ONS.
Major site for official UK statistics – formally it is the executive office of the UK Statistical Authority, It divides its statistical information into sections on business, industry and trade; economy; employment and the labour market; and people, population and the community. The national census data is included with other official national statistical series. There is little specific to library and information services but it is the key source for UK statistical information setting out the context in which library and information services operate and to which they respond and indeed help shape. Many of its series can also be found on data.gov.uk [see item 7]
General Library and Information Statistics
[See also items: 16, 17, 18, 38]
2. Data.gov.uk, (2010 - ). [online]. Cabinet Office.
At the time of viewing there were 39,000 datasets from 1389 publishers available on the website, but it is growing rapidly as part of the Government’s transparency programme and as a source of data to encourage innovation and business growth. The files are from a wide range of UK public sector organisations and as well as being used as information sources the data can be adapted and reused in new applications. It is understood that the Leadership For Libraries Task Force intend to post a core public libraries in England dataset on Data.gov.uk shortly.
Generally Information or library datasets are not yet prolific and tend to be at institutional , local authority or even service point level rather than aggregated across services and institutions. Service points locations and opening hours, visits and loans are typical datasets as are library catalogues. Leeds City Council is a useful example in that it aggregates its public library data and reports on it as a time series. Since September 2013 the site has also been recording “unpublished datasets” to increase transparency – one example are the “Information Asset Registers” which central government departments have to compile – many are recorded on the website as unpublished
When looking for data or statistics this source should always be checked. Be careful to check the currency of any data being offered which is not always easy to identify.
3. Loughborough University. LISU (1987 - ) [online]. Loughborough University.
As its name suggests, LISU – the Library & Information Statistics Unit (LISU) - has in the past focused its work on the collection and analysis of library statistics. It was funded by Government to produce the LISU Annual Library Statistics which included a 10 year trend analysis of public and academic libraries in the UK (last edition in 2006) and it also published a very popular quick reference guide to library statistics across a number of sectors variously known as the List (1997-2004), LAMPOST (2003/4-2008/9) and finally a (10 year)Trends in UK Library and Publishing Statistics (2002/3-2013/14). Other major series included an annual Survey of Library Services to Schools and Children in the UK (last edition in 2005/6) and a series on the price of academic books. LISU is now mainly a consultancy service, but it is still worthwhile checking this site.
4. World Intellectual Property Office, IP Statistics Data Center (1980 -). About the WIPO IP Statistics Center. (online).
WIPO's IP Statistics Data Center is a free online service that provides access to WIPO’s extensive statistical data on IP activity worldwide. You can search using a wide range of indicators, as well as view or download both the latest and historical data according to your needs. It mainly covers patents, trademarks and industrial design.
Freedom of Access to Information/Privacy
[See also item 17]
5. Cabinet Office, (2010 - ) Freedom of Information statistics [PDF, Excel, CSV]. Cabinet Office.
Quarterly statistics that cover a large number of central government bodies including all major Departments of State and other bodies with significant regulatory, policy-making and information-handling functions. It includes information for Wales and Northern Ireland but not Scotland. The statistics include initial handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, number received, timeliness of response and exemptions applied when withholding information
From July/September 2015 issue, series published by Cabinet office
Prior to July/September 2015 issue, series published by Ministry of Justice
Issues prior to 2010 archived on the National Archives site
6. Scottish Government, (2005 - ). Information request handling [online]. Scottish Government.
Annual report (from 2005)
Quarterly Statistics Bulletin (from 2009)
Annual Summary of [anonymised] Requests (2005)
Covers FOISA and EIR (Scotland) information requests to Scottish Government
7. Scottish Information Commissioner, (2013 - ), FOI and EIR statistics database. [online database]. Scottish Information Commissioner.
Includes data provided quarterly by Scottish public bodies on FOI and EIR requests they receive. Relates to the Freedom of Information Scotland Act (2002) and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations (2004). Database users are able to specify and generate their own reports
Further Education Libraries
[See also item 38]
8. Council for Learning Resources in Colleges (CoLRIC) (2016). General College FE survey. [online] ColRIC.
This survey is available to ColRIC members only
9. Council for Learning Resources in Colleges (CoLRIC) (2015). General College FE survey. [online] CoLRIC.
This survey is available to CoLRIC members only
Health & Social Care
[See also items: 38, 40]
10. Health Education England (HEE). Library and Knowledge Services Leads (2013 - ). NHS Library/Knowledge Services Statistics. [online].
Previously data collected by: NHS Regional Librarians Group (until March 2002); NHS Library & Knowledge Development Network (April 2002 – March 2006); National Library of Health (April 2007 – March 2009); and Strategic Health Authority Library Leads (April 2009 – March 2013).
[See also items: 16, 18, 34, 35, 38, 40]
11. SCONUL. Annual HE Library statistics. SCONUL (Society of College, National and University Libraries). [print].
Annual HE library statistics for UK and Irish Republic produced by SCONUL over a number of years covering performance each academic year (August-July). As well as Tables covering main library data there is a library expenditure summary and a section on strategic planning data with derived indicators. Individual entries are supplemented by those of “informal” groups of universities that share similar characteristics – members of Research Libraries UK, Old (founded before 1992), New (incorporated in or after 1992), and HEC (those without formal university status).
12. Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE). National Student Survey. [online]
The survey includes Q16 on libraries – “The library resources and services are good enough for my needs”. However this is currently (2016) under review. The survey results are likely to form a constituent part of assessing the Teaching Excellence Framework to be introduced by the Higher Education and Research Bill (2016 - 2017). When HEFCE goes, the Office of Students likely to publish annual survey
13. Higher Education Statistics Agency. [online].
HESA publishes a wide range of free and charged for statistics, including annual Higher Education Statistics for the UK. Useful for context but does not cover library data
[See also items: 18. 19, 20, 35, 38, 39, 40]
14. Australian Library and Information Association, (2010). ALIA special libraries survey: report. [pdf]. ALIA.
The most recent general statistical survey of special libraries, but focused on Australia. The last UK surveys were undertaken in the 1990’s by LISU (Library and Information Statistics Unit at Loughborough University) and TFPL, an independent information management consultancy and specialist recruitment agency – Clare Creaser, David Spiller and John Sumsion were main compilers – see list at: http://www.webarchive.org.uk/u...
15. Carter, D (2016). Demonstrating a commercial mindset: the 2016 Business Information Survey. Business Information Review. [e-journal]. 33 (1), pp9-18.
26th annual BIR survey based on a small number of telephone interviews with selected leading information managers from finance, legal, pharmaceutical, science and technical and telecommunications sectors in the UK, USA and Europe. It looks, amongst other things, at the positioning of the information service within the organisation, team structures, the current business context, budgetary changes, staffing, skills, innovation and future trends
[See also items: 4, 22, 23, 24, 25, 35]
16. EBLIDA. Knowledge and Information Centre. [online]. EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations)
The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) hosts two datasets in its Knowledge and Information Centre. These are:
Surveys of public and academic libraries (2013 and 2015)
Survey of non-formal and informal learning activities in public libraries across Europe (2016)
Links to both can be found on the webpage above
17. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Statistics and Evaluation Section. Publications associated with the S & E Section. [online]. IFLA.
IFLA has an ambition to be able to provide global library statistics presented within a standard template. This has yet to be realised. However, with UNESCO (Institute of Statistics), they have published a library statistics manifesto (2010), and developed a model library questionnaire set out in an article in the IFLA journal (2009) – links to both these are on the page above. In addition useful global library statistics will be found in the last IFLA World Report (2010) - http://db.ifla-world-report.or... - although there is a deliberate emphasis on freedom of information and freedom of expression issues in this and previous reports.
18. OCLC (July 2016). Global library statistics. [online]. OCLC.
Challenging attempt at providing basic library statistics for all countries of the world. It covers, when data is available, the total number of libraries, librarians, volumes, expenditures, and users for a large number of countries and territories in the world broken down into the major library types: academic, public, school, special and national. The statistics also include available data for languages used, and the number of library schools, publishers, and museums. Often no data is available and some data goes back to 1980. The data is provided in excel sheets. One useful file is the data sources used, providing a useful checklist for data sources in each country
19. United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Statistics Division. SDG indicators: global database. [online]. United Nations.
On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years these are underpinned by 230 indicators and progress will be measured against these indicators annually. The database provides data (where it exists) on the current indicators which can be accessed through each of the 17 goals or by individual nation. Increasingly this should provide a valuable international and national set of indicators. A few do relate to information or to more broad subjects such as literacy. However they provide useful contextual data on the world in which library and information services are part and have to respond.
20. Lloyds Bank, (2016). UK business digital index 2016. [online]. Lloyds Bank.
Third annual survey of UK small businesses and charities to assess their digital maturity and how well they use digital resources and opportunities.
21. National Literacy Trust. Our research programme and services. [online]. National Literacy Trust.
Since 2010 the National literacy Trust has undertaken an annual national literacy survey asking around 35,000 UK children and young people aged 8 to 18 about their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. A number of annual reports are based on this data including “Children and Young People’s Reading” and “Children and Young People’s Writing”. More recently there have been annual surveys of parents and early year practitioners exploring emerging literacies of children aged 3-5.
22. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2005 - ). Information and communication technology: internet access. (online). OECD.
Internet access is defined as the percentage of households who reported that they had access to the Internet. In almost all cases this access is via a personal computer either using a dial-up, ADSL or cable broadband access. This indicator is measured as a percentage of all households.
23. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2005 -). Information and communication technology: access to computers from home. (online).
Access to computers from home is defined as the number of households that reported having at least one personal computer in working order in their home. This indicator is measured as a percentage of all households.
24. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2000 - ). Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), OECD. [portal]. OECD.
Triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students [in most countries the end of compulsory education] in reading, mathematics and science. The results receive wide coverage and form a basis on which to assess overall reading literacy of students. The last survey to be published covers 2015.
25. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2016 - ). The survey of adult skills: readers’ companion. 2nd ed. ). [Portal]. OECD (2016 - ). - “a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)” International survey (which in 2015 covered 33 countries) that measures adult proficiency in key information processing skills – literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.
[See also item 38]
26. Prison Libraries Group, (2015). The Big question report. [pdf]. Prison Libraries Group of CILIP.
One-off survey carried out in 2014 that had a 72% response rate from prisons in England and Wales plus a single response each from Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is the first comprehensive survey of prison libraries since the RCU Ltd survey of 2003 commissioned by the Offender Learning and Skills Unit. The survey looks at the “New Ways of Working” programme in prisons and its impact on the library service as well as sections on management (including staffing), stock, and IT.
[See also items: 16. 18, 38, 40]
27. British Library. Public Lending Right. (website). British Library.
28. CIPFA. Public library statistics: estimates and actuals. [Figures for Great Britain]. Annual. Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA). ISSN: 1750-6808 Subscription service.
Each annual edition includes estimates for the current year [April – March] and actuals for the preceding year. Prior to 2005 the estimates and actuals were published as separate series. Regarded as providing basic financial and performance data for public libraries in Great Britain but focused heavily on inputs and outputs. Each edition normally published in December/January.
As part of CIPFA consultancy services public library services can join benchmarking clubs and utilise a variety of user-focused surveys:
CIPFA Plus (Public Library User Survey)
CIPFA Young People's Survey
Generally this data is private although authorities may publish local results and occasionally some aggregated results included in the annual statistics
See: http://www.cipfa.org/services/... [accessed21 July 2016]
29. CIPFA, (2016 -). Library profiles. [pdfs] Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy. [England]. Subscription service.
Series, formerly sponsored by DCMS (see item 30) continued as bespoke subscription service for public library authorities
30. CIPFA, (2012-2015). Library profiles. [pdfs] Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy. [England]
2014/15 set of benchmarking reports
2013/14 set of benchmarking reports
2012/13 set of benchmarking reports
2011/12 set of benchmarking reports
A comprehensive set of benchmarking reports, funded by DCMS and produced by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) published to help English library authorities ensure they were delivering a good level of service and review any areas for improvement. They are accessible without charge
31. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Libraries Taskforce. (2017). List of contents for the libraries core dataset for England. [online]. DCMS. Available at:
As part of its work programme the Libraries Task Force commuted to producing a core dataset for public libraries. It was originally hoped it would be published as a statistical series on data.gov.uk. However it has now been framed as guidance for local library services in their own collection and publication of data. This is the first iteration and work remains to be done on a number of sections. A blog posting explains further – see: https://librariestaskforce.blog.gov.uk/2017/07/20/a-core-dataset-for-libraries/?platform=hootsuite
32. Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). (2017). Public libraries in England: basic dataset. [online]. DCMS Available at:
This lists name, address and website of each library in England, as of 1 July 2016, arranged by local authority. As well as appearing on the government website it is also referenced in data.gov.uk. This dataset forms part of the core dataset for public libraries being developed by the Libraries Task Force [see item: 31]
33. Department for Culture, Media and SportCMS, (2005 - ) Taking Part statistical release series [England] [online] DCMS.
The Taking Part survey is a continuous face to face household survey of adults aged 16 and over and children aged 5 to 15 years old in England. It has run since 2005 and is the main evidence source for DCMS and its sectors, including public libraries.
The survey collects data on aspects of leisure, culture and sport in England, as well as an in-depth range of socio-demographic information on respondents. In the case of libraries it includes visits made to public libraries broken down by region and socio-economic group: more recent surveys include similar for digital engagement. Up to 2016 there were four statistical releases each year. There is also an annual child report published in July.
In March 2016 DCMS published a strategy outlining the proposed development of this series over the next five years. After an interim year (2016-17) there will be two biannual adult releases in July and December with Short Stories (a focus on particular areas of interest) published twice a year in April and October. The Taking Part annual child release will continue to be published in July.
34. Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), (?) Local authority revenue expenditure and financing England: 2015 to 2016 individual local authority data – outturn. [online] Department of Communities and local Government.
You will need to scroll down page to find this specific dataset. It provides more detailed supplementary information and data to “Local authority revenue expenditure and financing in England: 2015 to 2016 final outturn”. In particular supplementary table RO5 covers cultural, environmental, regulatory and planning services and includes specific data for [public] libraries in England. In the main report data is only available for cultural services.
35. White, Sonya comp. (2012 - ). Fines and charges in public libraries in England and Wales. [online] LISU. ISSN 2051-2589, A4 ISSN 2051-2597, CD.
Details of the charges made –and concessions available – for loans of audio-visual and electronic items, overdue and lost items, reservations, Internet access, printing and faxes, and other specialist services such as online searching . Prior to 2012 it was published by SINTO
36. Ithaka S+R, Jisc and RLUK. (2015). UK Survey of Academics 2015 (online).
The second Ithaka S+R, Jisc and RLUK, it asks the UK research community their views on resource discovery, their use of these resources (online and digital), attitudes to research data management, and the role of the library.
37. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (1999 - ). OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard. (online). OECD.
Collects international statistics relating to major world economies (including UK). Amongst other topics it covers research, innovation and knowledge transfer indicators
[See also items: 18, 38]
38. Softlink (2015 - ). 2016 UK school library survey. [pdf]. Softlink.
This is the second UK annual survey with a commitment to continuing it. It has very broad data presentation covering all types of schools in all UK nations. Needs more granular approach with separate tables for each nation and level and type of school.
39. Streatfield, David, Shaper, Sue and Rae-Scott, Simon, (2010). School libraries in the UK: a worthwhile past, a difficult present – and a transformed future?: main report of the UK national survey. [pdf]. School Libraries Group of CILIP.
“These UK national surveys of school libraries were conducted between December 2009 and April 2010 with funds provided by the Wendy Drewett Bequest which is administered by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).The work was complex, involving:
• A baseline e‐survey of primary school libraries focused on describing the library and its resources
• A baseline e‐survey of secondary, middle, special and independent school libraries with a similar focus
• A follow‐up e‐survey of the activities of school library staff in secondary, middle, special and independent school library staff
• A targeted follow‐up survey of secondary, middle, special and independent school library staff in 15 selected local authority areas, conducted by interview or by e‐survey” (Introduction, p3).
40. Edinburgh Napier University (2014 - ). UK information workforce: mapping the library, archives, records, information management and knowledge management and related professions. [PDFs]. Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and Archives and Records Association (ARA).
Currently includes an executive briefing and a number of specific briefings on UK nations, English regions and specific sectors. The full database is not yet available. It is planned to regularly update the data
41. British & Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) (2016). BIALL salary survey2016. [online]. BIALL.
42. Sue Hill Recruitment and TPFL (2016) salary survey 2017. [pdf] Sue Hill Recruitment and TPFL. Available at:
Now produced annually (since 2015/6) and covers salaries in Legal, financial services, other commercial, academic, public libraries and local authorities, government, healthcare/NHS and the third sector. Each table gives separate salary figures for London and the rest of the country. This edition produced with the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS).