1. Main facts and figures
- overall, in 2017/18, 32.7% of people aged 16 years and over said they had used a public library in the past year – a decrease of 4.3 percentage points since 2012/13
- 42.6% of Black people had used a public library, compared with 31.7% of White people
The ethnic categories used in this data
Respondents were asked to indicate their ethnicity from a choice of 18 categories.
For this data, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions about these specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data here is broken down into the following 5 broad groups:
2. By ethnicity
3. By ethnicity over time
|Time||%||Number of respondents||%||Number of respondents||%||Number of respondents||%||Number of respondents||%||Number of respondents||%||Number of respondents|
|2012/13||37.0||9,838||43.5||394||49.7||188||47.2||171||35.9||9,054||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||22|
|2016/17||34.0||9,352||47.7||423||44.0||242||41.6||170||32.3||8,473||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||27|
The Taking Part survey measures cultural activity by people aged 16 years and over, as well as children aged 5 to 10 years and 11 to 15 years. Respondents must be living in private households in England, but the cultural activity can have taken place anywhere.
The sample for the Taking Part survey is chosen by first randomly selecting households from the Postcode Address File.
An interviewer visits these addresses and, if contact is made, records details of all individuals living at each address. One adult, and where applicable one child aged 5 to 10 and one aged 11 to 15, is then selected to participate in the survey.
The figures presented here only apply to people aged 16 years and over.
Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.
For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split. Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.
Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.
The data in the Taking Part sample is weighted to make sure it is representative of the population in England. The data is weighted to:
- compensate for unequal probabilities of selection
- adjust for non-responses
Weighting is based on mid-year population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.
You can see confidence intervals for each ethnic group if you download the data.
In 2017/18, 32.7% of people aged 16 years and over had used a public library in their own time or for voluntary work in the past year. This is a reliable estimate of the percentage of people in England who used a public library in that period. But because the Taking Part Survey is based on a random sample, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.
It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 31.4% and 34.0% of all people aged 16 years and over in England used a public library. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall between the upper and lower confidence interval. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.
For 2017/18, the Other ethnic group had 79 respondents (out of 7,715 respondents in total), so we can be less certain about the estimate for the Other ethnic group (25%). This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, of between 13.4% and 37.5% for people from the Other ethnic group in 2017/18.
Changes over time and differences between groups are only reported on where they are statistically significant at the 95% level. This means that we can be confident that the differences seen in our sampled respondents are reflective of the population. The statistical tests used mean we can be confident that if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population 95 times out of 100 we would get similar findings.
Percentages are given to the nearest whole number.
Further technical information
5. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Twice a year
Purpose of data source
The Taking Part Survey measures people's involvement in cultural activities in England.
The data is widely used by policy officials, practitioners, academics and charities.
6. Download the data
This file contains: Measure, Time, Ethnicity, Geography, Value, Upper bound, Lower bound,Number of respondents