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UK government says CIPFA library statistics ‘flawed’

The UK government’s Libraries Taskforce has raised concerns about library statistics published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), reports the Bookseller.

In a report entitled ‘CIPFA statistics and the future of England’s libraries’, the taskforce highlighted the limitations of heavily circulated ‘flawed’ data, which it argues portrays the UK library sector as being in a worse state than it actually is. Concerns were raised about discrepancies in the data collection and reporting, the structure and accessibility of the data, and a failure to capture the changing role of libraries.

The report also suggested that because libraries needed to pay to receive the results of the data collection, only 86% of libraries participated in 2016-2017, compared with 100% in 2006-2007, resulting in ‘inconsistency over time’.

‘For the library services who do submit CIPFA data, it is increasingly difficult to justify the efforts to provide consistent and accurate data, especially given constrained resources,’ the report reads. ‘As a result variables are left blank, further decreasing the consistency of the dataset overall.’

Library campaigners welcomed the review of the data but said the government’s Libraries Taskforce now has responsibility for rectifying the issues.

A CIPFA spokesperson stated that the organisation welcomed the Libraries Taskforce’s ‘helpful’ report and looked forward to working with the taskforce to improve their public libraries data. ‘It will be particularly useful to explore how best we can encourage all library authorities to respond to our survey and to respond accurately,’ said the spokesperson.

 

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Category: Library news International