The stats tell a very different story to Croydon Council’s “we are proud to have invested in our libraries” narrative

Cllr Oliver Lewis, the cabinet member responsible for overseeing the cutting of our public library service in Croydon, keeps repeating his pride at how Croydon has invested in our library service.

The data exposes the truth…

The yearly CIPFA comparator data for public libraries looks at each authority and compares it with the data of a number of authorities which most closely reflect that local authority’s socio-economic and demographic profile.

The most recent, the 2018-2019 CIPFA Stats Comparative Profile,  report details the actual data for 2018-19 and estimates for 2019-20. The comparison group is:

a) Croydon
k) Enfield
w) Redbridge
x) Ealing
z) Hounslow
u) Waltham Forest
m) Bexley
h) Barnet
d) Brent
t) Merton
n) Sutton
s) Greenwich
e) Lewisham
f) Haringey
r) Harrow

Find the full data report here:  Croydon CIPFA data

Croydon library appears in black on the graphs.

Croydon has 13 libraries, which is slightly more than the average number of libraries per authority.

BUT Croydon has the second largest population of the 15 authorities compared. This leaves Croydon with below the average number of service points( libraries) per 100,000 population. Croydon has no mobile library service.

Per 1,000 population, Croydon has the fourth-lowest number of active borrowers. This suggests that the library service does not engage as well with the population when compared to the other authorities.

Croydon is the local authority that spends the least, per 1,000 population, on its library service which suggests it is running a low-cost service.

Expressed another way, the line graph shows how under-funded Croydon libraries are and have been for some time. There is an optimistic prediction that funding will improve in 2019- 20.

For Croydon, this is very unlikely, as Croydon Council plan to offload or shut five libraries, have saved more by not investing in book stock during the pandemic, and have plans for Open + staffless library access which may sound innovative but in reality just means a poorer service for library users, often excluding young people during these staffless hours due to security issues, and leading to staff reductions.

Physical visits to libraries, per 1,000 population, is just below the average, but this is in comparison with boroughs with far fewer residents.

Book issues in Croydon, per 1,000 population, is second lowest.

Total book stock per 1,000 population, is below the average, sixth lowest of the 15 authorities compared.

This clearly demonstrates the under-investment in our library offer.  The lack of a quality book stock drove many avid library users away. This has clearly not been addressed.


So where is this investment in our library service they talk of?


1 thought on “The stats tell a very different story to Croydon Council’s “we are proud to have invested in our libraries” narrative

  1. Pingback: Croydon Update 6 March | History & Social Action News and Events

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