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Libraries

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 15 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many libraries have been closed in the last two years, broken down by region; and what estimate she has made of the number of libraries that will be closed in 2006. (76889)

I have been asked to reply.

The table shows the change in the number of static public libraries, grouped into bands by opening hours, over the last three years and, for context, the comparable figures for 1997-98. The same information, by region, can be found in the Public Library Statistics published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

There have been a number of library closure proposals in recent months. I have written to the leaders of all the 149 library authorities in England asking them to consider carefully what would be lost through closures. Since then a number of the original proposals have either been dropped or scaled down.

Although some proposals remain it is too early to speculate on their likely outcome. However, my officials continue to monitor the situation closely.

Static libraries in England

Hours open per week

60 plus

45 to 59

30 to 44

10 to 29

<10

1997-98

6

449

1,279

1,323

157

2002-03

42

598

1,168

1,240

91

2003-04

51

683

1,143

1,186

80

2004-05

69

727

1,139

1,106

96