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The number of public libraries closed since 1999.

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First published:
13 April 2022
Last updated:

Details

12 April 2022

Dear                  ,

ATISN 16166 – Freedom of Information Request - Libraries

Thank you for your request which I received on 15 March 2022.  You asked for:

The number of public libraries in Wales which have closed down since devolution began in 1999, broken down by each year.

Our response

The Culture Division of Welsh Government is responsible for managing the Welsh Public Library Standards (WPLS) to monitor the provision of public library services under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, to ensure that a comprehensive and efficient library service is provided by library authorities. The first framework of standards ran from 2002 to 2005 and subsequent frameworks have also run over three financial years, with the sixth WPLS Standards framework coming to an end on 31st March 2020.  WPLS data returned by local authorities allows the total number of libraries across Wales to be identified from the 2002/03 financial year onwards.

Data we hold is outlined below:

  • Data from 2002/2003 does not include data from 4 local authorities. It includes data from libraries which were open 10 hours per week and above.
  • Data from 2003/2004 does not include data from 19 local authorities. It includes data from 3 local authorities for libraries which were open 10 hours per week and above.
  • Data from 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 is complete. It includes the total number of libraries, irrespective of opening hours.  It may include mobile libraries also.
  • Data from 2008/2009 does not include data from 8 local authorities.It includes data from libraries which were open 10 hours and above and also those open less than 10 hours per week, including community libraries supported by local authorities.
  • Data from 2009/2010 does not include data from 7 local authorities.  It includes data from libraries which were open 10 hours and above and also those open less than 10 hours per week, including community libraries supported by local authorities.
  • Data from 2010/2011 does not include data from 5 local authorities.  It includes data from libraries which were open 10 hours and above and also those open less than 10 hours per week, including community libraries supported by local authorities.  

Under frameworks four (2011-14), five (2014-17) and six (2017-20) of the WPLS, the following data was collected on the number of public libraries:

  • No. of static service points open 10+ hours per week
  • No. of static service points open for less than 10 hours per week
  • Community libraries that are supported by a local authority

Information on community libraries that are not supported by a local authority are not included in this data

The information you requested is enclosed for the years 2002/03 – 2020/21.  The data for 2021/22 will be submitted by local authorities in July 2022. We do not hold the data prior to the establishment of the WPLS.

Year

2002/2003

2003/2004

2004/2005

2005/2006

2006/2007

2007/2008

No. of libraries open

267

43

311

310

310

307

Year

2008/2009

2009/2010

2010/2011

2011/2012

2013/2014

2015/16

No. of libraries open

205

191

221

284

277

237

Year

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

2020/21

 

No. of libraries open

243

224

236

230

230

 

 Next steps

If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response. Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at:

Information Rights Unit, 
Welsh Government,
Cathays Park, 
Cardiff, 
CF10 3NQ 
or Email: Freedom.ofinformation@gov.wales

Please remember to quote the ATISN reference number above.

You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office, 
Wycliffe House, 
Water Lane, 
Wilmslow, 
Cheshire, 
SK9 5AF

However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.

Yours sincerely