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Cambridgeshire’s mobile libraries deliver £300,000 of value every year

13 July 2023

Economists have found Cambridgeshire’s mobile library service produces over £300,000 of value each year for its users.

A new study commissioned by Libraries Connected East and conducted by economists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) found that England’s public libraries generated the equivalent of £3.4bn each year.

The report, Libraries for Living, and for Living Better found that a typical library provided an estimated £1m for taxpayers each year.

Cambridgeshire’s three mobile libraries visit 388 locations in 98 villages each month, stopping at care homes, primary schools, playgroups, day centres, housing shelters, campuses, science parks and retail parks.

The mobile libraries enable potentially isolated people and those in rural areas to stay connected and independent by borrowing books, CDs, magazines and jigsaws, buying stamps and reading glasses and collecting free walking stick ferrules.

In partnership with the Cambridgeshire Deaf Association, all Cambridgeshire libraries also provide hearing aid batteries and support for people with hearing problems.

The report found that, through this broad range of services, Cambridgeshire’s mobile libraries were generating the equivalent of £49.70 per user each year.

With more than 6,400 regular users, that represents a total value of more than £300,000 for the residents of Cambridgeshire through their mobile libraries.

The report authors also highlighted the importance of libraries’ digital inclusion services which includes access to printing and tech buddy schemes, with Wisbech library particularly praised.

Cllr Tom Sanderson, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee, said: “Our mobile libraries are absolutely vital for isolated people unable to access static library services – they offer so many benefits beyond those traditionally associated with libraries.

“We are delighted that this new report acknowledges the huge value that they deliver to Cambridgeshire, and more generally recognises the impressive six-fold return on investment that libraries provide to our community.

“The Council is committed to continuing to support and develop the library services in Cambridgeshire.”

A total of £319,725 of value was ascribed to Cambridgeshire’s mobile library services by UEA economists using a tool that assigned monetary amounts based on equivalent commercial rates, the taxpayer savings created and the projected financial impact on individuals..

The report also estimated that a branch library typically provides a value between £600,000 and £1.5m depending on size and services offered. Cambridgeshire County Council runs 33 libraries in the county with 12 further libraries in the area run by local communities. To find out where the mobile library stops near you, visit

The full report Libraries for Living, and for Living Better is available for download as a PDF online:

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