The number of volunteers working in UK libraries has risen by more than half in the past four years, according to new figures.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s UK Annual Libraries Survey, published this week, shows there were 23,397 people who volunteered in UK libraries in 2011/12 compared with 15,008 in 2007/8 – a rise of 56 per cent.
At the same time, the number of library employees has fallen by 15.4 per cent, from 25,769 full-time equivalents in 2007/8 to 21,780 in 2011/12.
The figures are not directly comparable because the volunteer figures count anybody who volunteered regardless of the number of hours they worked, while the employees figure is the number of full-time equivalent staff.
The figures showed that the pace of the increase in volunteers has slowed. The number of volunteers rose by 8.9 per cent in the past year, compared with a 22.5 per cent increase during the previous year.
The number of full-time equivalent staff is down 8 per cent in a year. The fall had been 4.3 per cent in 2010/11.
The survey reveals a reduction of 201 in 2011/12 in the number of "library service points", including static and mobile libraries, to 4,265.