Use of libraries
1. Main facts and figures
- in 2018 to 2019, 32.9% of people aged 16 years and over said they had used a library in the past year (down from 37.0% in 2012 to 2013)
- Asian people were more likely (42.5%) to have used a library than White people (31.8%)
The ethnic categories used in this data
Survey respondents were asked to choose their ethnic group from a choice of 18 categories.
The number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions about these ethnic categories. So the data is grouped into the following 5 broad ethnic groups:
2. By ethnicity
|Ethnicity||%||Number of respondents|
3. By ethnicity over time
|Time||All %||All Number of respondents||Asian %||Asian Number of respondents||Black %||Black Number of respondents||Mixed %||Mixed Number of respondents||White %||White Number of respondents||Other %||Other 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 among:
- 5 to 10 year olds
- 11 to 15 year olds
- people aged 16 and over
Survey respondents must live in private households in England. The cultural activity they took part in can have taken place anywhere.
Respondents are chosen randomly from the Royal Mail Postcode Address File.
An interviewer visits respondents' addresses. They record details of everyone living at each address they successfully contact. Where possible, they select one adult, one 5 to 10 year old, and one 11 to 15 year old to take part in the survey.
The figures shown here only apply to people aged 16 and over.
Weighting adjusts the results of a survey to make them more reliable and more representative of the general population.
For example, if 25% of a survey's respondents are women, it won't reflect the views of the general population.
The data in the Taking Part sample 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.
Download the data to see confidence intervals for each ethnic group.
In 2018 to 2019, 32.9% of people aged 16 years and over had used a 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 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 between 31.6% and 34.3% of all people aged 16 years and over in England used a 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.
The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval.
For 2018 to 2019, the Other ethnic group had 46 respondents (out of 8,161 respondents in total). Because of this, we can be less certain about the estimate for the Other ethnic group (37.5%). This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, of between 20.4% and 58.5%.
Changes over time and differences between groups are only reported if 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.
Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.
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