Monthly Archives: March 2020

Awareness, Planning, Resilience: Thoughts on Libraries’ Cyber Defense in 2020

Digital vulnerabilities pose serious challenges for organisations, governments, companies and the wider public – libraries included. Cyberattacks and data breaches made headlines many times throughout 2019, from social media and popular software to public agencies. As a landmark 2019 report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation pointed out, both the scope of threats and the range of targets for such attacks is rapidly growing.

For libraries, the importance of protecting the data and information they work with every day is readily apparent. Less than a week into 2020, the Contra Costa County Library in the US experienced a ransomware attack, impacting a number of library services.

From email scams to hacks into a library user database, library systems can become targets – and as the COVID-19 outbreak puts more pressure on online library resources, securing their digital assets and services, not least in order to protect staff and users, is a high priority. What is at stake, and what suggestions and tips for boosting libraries’ security can we draw from broader literature and available toolkits?

The Broader Context

Broadly in the field of security, you can think of three types of threats towards data:  it can be lost, exposed, or made inaccessible (known as the CIA triad – confidentiality, integrity and accessibility). A poll among cybersecurity professionals, for example, shows that the three biggest expected threats in 2020 are “weaponized email attachments and links (74%), ransomware (71%), banking trojans and other browser-based password hijackers (67%)”.

An alternative top-level taxonomy of threats (borrowing from ENISA guidelines for a different sector) identifies: malicious actions (as described above), supply chain failure (e.g. cloud service provider failure), systems failure (e.g. software of device failure), as well as threats stemming from human errors or other phenomena. All, clearly, can have negative impacts.

On the positive side, however, public awareness on digital security and privacy matters has fundamentally shifted in the recent years, and more and more organisations and companies put a high priority on addressing these issues. In the UK alone, for example, about three-quarters of charities and businesses in 2019 reported that cybersecurity is a “high or very high priority”.

It is not just public attitudes that are changing. As the 2019 Internet and Jurisdiction report points out, security regulations are increasingly often linked to other fields of government regulation – especially data privacy. This can impact libraries: for instance, a 2019 publication by the Colorado  State  Library discussed how the recently introduced state regulation on personal information creates obligations for libraries to, inter alia, ‘implement reasonable security procedures and practices’. Similarly, under the EU GDPR libraries as data controllers have a responsibility to, inter alia, prevent, detect and report attacks and security breaches.

These regulations point to the fact that security concerns for libraries will always be particularly pressing when dealing with personally identifiable information (as well as, arguably, information on the habits and preferences of their users). So how to respond?

Assess and plan: key questions to ask

Map the assets, know the threats

A first key step to boosting a library’s cyber defence, as suggested in a number of recommendations and broader literature, is to take stock of your assets and digital systems. Map your entire system to see what needs to be protected: the Integrated Library System, the data you store, staff and patron computers, tablets and other devices, the library website, the network… Whenever applicable, this can also include apps and cloud services, since those can also contain vulnerabilities.

Once you know your assets, consider the vulnerabilities, priorities and risks. A toolkit published by Scottish PEN adapts an Electronic Frontier Foundation guide to highlight the key questions to consider:

  1. “What do you want to protect?”
  2. “Who do you want to protect it from?”
  3. “How likely is it that you will need to protect it?”
  4. “How bad are the consequences if you fail?”
  5. “How much trouble are you willing to go through in order to try to prevent those?”

You can also consider who has access to the assets you want to protect, and how you would know and respond if something goes wrong.

These questions can help you decide what measures to take to safeguard both privacy and security.

Setting up a plan

Having mapped the assets and considered the risks, you can develop a plan of security measures and risk mitigation strategies. Just like the assessment step, this is something to do together with your IT team – if your library has access to one! A 2019 Library Freedom Institute lecture on cybersecurity, for example, mentioned that some libraries might get IT support through their consortia or similar organisations, at a local City Hall, or elsewhere.

Your security plan and risk mitigation strategy would be built with your assets and situation in mind. Some key elements to consider when developing your security regime and policies are as follows – as set out in the Cyber Security Toolkit for Boards developed by the UK National Cyber Security Center:

  • Network security
  • User awareness and education
  • Malware defense and prevention
  • Access to removable media
  • Maintaining the secure configuration of all systems
  • Managing and limiting user privileges
  • Incident management
  • Monitoring
  • Home and mobile working policy and security

Remembering the basics

Among these fundamental elements of the security regime, there are of course a few key concrete and tangible steps that can boost the security of your data, devices and processes. These are often mentioned when discussing the basics of cybersecurity, and you will likely have heard then often before:

  • Creating backups of your systems is crucial! A library that experiences a ransomware attack, for example, could be able to restore their systems faster with the help of existing backups. Have a backup plan and system that fits your needs and capacities.
  • Keeping your software updated, installing all patches and updates is a key security measure.
  • Setting up a password policy. See, for instance, the Tactical Tech Data Detox Kit chapter on passwords to see what makes a good password (or better yet, a passphrase!)
  • Website owners are encouraged to encrypt their website(s) and make use of HTTPS protocols instead of HTTP. HTTPS is a secure and encrypted protocol for communication between web browsers and websites – and the EFF offers some advice and resources for website owners on how to implement HTTPS by default. A 2018 case study of one public library’s HTTPS implementation points out that it is important to make use of HTPPS and related security measures consistently and pervasively, across all web-based library applications and their elements.

Staff training: protecting the library together

A key part of a library’s cyber defense – drawing on both broader literature and some library-focused overviews  – is making sure that all your staff is caught up on the basics of online security. This can help make sure that the whole team is more alert and aware, reducing the likelihood of some of the most common threats like phishing or malware distributed through emails.

There are different resources available to start such training – such as those developed by the EFF. A 2019 pilot study published in Information Technology and Libraries, for example, provides initial evidence of how librarians taking part in online cybersecurity courses can utilise their knowledge to strengthen cybersecurity practices in their libraries.

Create learning opportunities for your communities

And finally, libraries can be well-positioned to help their community members learn essential skills to be safe online. There are different examples of how libraries have approached this task – from ad-hoc assistance or linking users to relevant educational materials, to dedicated workshops (see, for instance, a listing from the Tompkins County Public Library) or offering full courses on cyber-security (e.g. in the Hague Public Library).

Libraries can partner with cybersecurity specialists and agencies to deliver such training – as well as host dedicated awareness-raising campaigns. Depending on capacity, a library can adopt some of the approaches listed above- or find their own ways to help their communities with learn essential cybersecurity skills.

These are of course just a few broad elements highlighted in the broader literature to consider when creating a library’s security strategy. With more demand for online library resources and services – and so more risk – it is worthwhile to go over your library’s security plans and practices to be sure that your data, information and processes are safe and well!

European Copyright Directive EU-DSM – COVID19 and implementation

EU-DSM directive: March 2020 update

In June 2019, the new European Copyright Directive entered into force. Countries have until June 2021 to implement it in their national laws.



Each country has its own process and timetable to prepare for the implementation of this reform.

Some countries like Germany and the Netherlands already started the implementation process in September 2019, followed by Spain in December 2019.

Many countries are also engaged in meetings with stakeholders (libraries, publishers, collective management organisations, organisations representing users’ rights) such as Belgium, Sweden, Finland, while others have issued questionnaires on the different articles such as Romania. Still others have yet to begin the process formally.

Meanwhile countries of the European Economic Area such as Norway and Iceland have not yet started but are closely monitoring the exchanges.


Implementation and COVID-19

The current situation of European countries with regard to COVID-19 has already started to impact the implementation schedule.

The stakeholder dialogue concerning Article 17, at which IFLA is represented, and whose objective is to define guidelines for the implementation of Article 17 in national laws in respect of copyright and users’ rights, was to have its 7th meeting on 30 March but has been postponed to a previously unknown date.

The date for the submission of contributions on Slovenia’s implementation, also originally scheduled for 30 March, has been also postponed to 30 April.

Sweden has cancelled meetings to discuss the directive with stakeholders and concentrates on written communications.


The involvement of library associations and institutions

In each country, the library sector is attentive to the evolution of the transposition process which, if properly done, will have positive consequences for users. To achieve this, library associations and libraries in the concerned countries are making the needs of their colleagues and users heard by their governments and other stakeholders.

The provisions in the articles concern subjects directly affecting the library field, such as

_ Text and Data Mining (Articles 3 and 4)

_ Use of Works in Teaching Activities (article 5)

_ Preservation of Cultural Heritage (article 6)

_ Contract Override and Technological Protection Measures (article 7)

_ Out-of Commerce Works (Articles 8-11)

_ Works in the Visual Art in the Public Domain (Article 14)

_ Press Publishers Right (Article 15)

_ Use of protected content by online content-sharing service providers (Article 17)


Please see these additional articles to learn more about the subject:

European Copyright Directive Implementation Advances: How Can you Get Involved?

3 reasons why libraries should care about the EU-Digital Single Market Directive


Please contact Camille Francoise, for additional information.

Library Stat of the Week #11: Despite sparse populations, there are relatively dense public library networks in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Canada

As highlighted last week, a key characteristic – and indeed mission – of public libraries is to provide a service that responds to the needs of their communities.

This job can be made more difficult when the distance between people and libraries is greater, for example in rural communities. For people who lack transport, or are mobility impaired, the challenge is particularly acute.

In last week’s Library Stat of the Week, we looked at the density of public and community library networks by analysing how big an area – on average – each public library serves.

As could be expected, the densest networks were often in very small territories such as Macao, China, Hong Kong, China, and Singapore, although there were similar figures for areas served in some larger countries such as Czechia and India. The least dense networks were in very large countries and territories, such as Greenland, Australia, Mongolia and Canada.

Graph comparing population density and library densityThe next step is to look at the relationship between population density and library density.

Graph comparing population density and library density

In the three graphs shown here, we compare the situation for G20 countries (with the exception of Saudi Arabia, for which public library data is not possible), with the size of dots indicating the population of each country concerned.

Graph comparing population density and library density

This makes it possible to explore to what extent countries with similar levels of population density have a more or less dense library network.

For example, China and Mexico have a similar level of population density, but Mexico has a much denser network. The same goes for India and Japan, where despite similar levels of population density, but India has a much closer network of libraries. In contrast, despite a much sparser population, the United States still has a closer public library network than Turkey.

Looking globally, we can calculate a global trend, and then calculate how much denser – or less dense – any given country’s public and community library network is in comparison with this.

Doing this, we can then calculate that it is in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Canada that public library density is highest, once population density is taken into account. In effect, there is a form of ‘over-compensation’ for the sparsity of their populations, helping ensure that citizens have easier access to libraries.

At a regional level, it is Europe and Asia that have the densest networks after taking account of population density.

Meanwhile, Africa and the MENA region have the least dense networks of libraries, even after taking population density into account. It is in these countries in particular that efforts to boost not only coverage, but also digital tools which make it possible to overcome distance, are particularly pressing.

Of course, as highlighted in last week’s blog, a complete idea of how far individuals need to travel to reach a library can only be obtained with detailed data about where libraries are, and where people live. Nonetheless, this analysis gives a first idea of how different countries approach public and community library provision.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.

Library Stat of the Week #10: On average, each public or community library serves an area of 254km2 – that’s 254 000 Olympic swimming pools! But in the European Union, it’s only 59km2, and in Asia, 85km2

Library Stat of the Week #10: On average, each public or community library serves an area of 254km2 - that's 254000 Olympic Swimming Pool! But in the European Union it's only 59km2, and in Asia, 85km2One of the key strengths of libraries – in particular public and community libraries – is the fact that they are local.

Being close to the communities they serve gives them a unique potential to understand what people need, and to provide collections and services accordingly.

Of course, ‘closeness’ is about more than just geography, but this does undoubtedly play a role. When a single library needs to service a large area – for example rural or sparsely populated ones – it can be more difficult to ensure support to everyone who lives there. This is a particular concern for people who are disabled or otherwise find it difficult to move around.

Clearly detailed data about the average distance for any given individual to a library requires disaggregated data at the local level.

However, we can start to understand in which countries people may risk being the furthest away from libraries by calculating the average area that any given public or community library serves. We can do this by taking World Bank figures on the surface area of countries, and dividing this by the number of public and community libraries, as reported on IFLA’s Library Map of the World.

This gives us a total figure – for reporting countries – of 254km2 served per library – the equivalent of 254 000 Olympic swimming pools (each pool is 1000m2). There is – as always – variation! At the regional level, the European Union has the highest density of public libraries – one for every 50km2. Asia comes next, with one library for every 85km2.

At the national level, Asia claims both of the top spots, with Macao (one library for every 0.4km2) and Singapore (one every 2km2). Czechia has the densest network in Europe (one library for every 13km2), Moldova in non-EU Europe (one every 25km2), Réunion in Africa (one every 31km2), St Lucia in Latin America and the Caribbean (one every 32km2), Bahrain in MENA (one every 65km2), and New Zealand in Oceania (one every 631km2).

Clearly, as highlighted before, these figures are averages, and a more detailed understanding of how far people need to travel to get to a library requires more disaggregated data. Next week, we’ll move a step closer by looking at how population density and library density are related.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.

Libraries – The Hidden Wealth of Cities: the World Bank Report on Public Space in Urban Development

At last month’s World Urban Forum, the World Bank launched a new report – The Hidden Wealth of Cities* – exploring on the importance of public space. Taking public space to mean all spaces in urban areas which are open to the public, both outside and inside, it includes a particular study on the place of (public) libraries.

Why focus on this, especially given the Bank’s reputation for being more focused on hard economics and major infrastructure projects? And why the interest in libraries in particular?

This blog looks to answer both of these questions, and to provide some key talking points you can use in your advocacy.


Public Space for Better Lives

As the introduction to the report sets out, cities are not only home to a growing share of the world population, but also account for a large share of the global economy. By concentrating workers, ideas and energy, they have allowed for new businesses to form and innovations to emerge.

However, the coming together of so many people and businesses puts pressure on available space, with competition between industry, commerce, residential and transport uses. Too often, public spaces – either outdoor ones like parks or riverfronts, or indoor ones such as libraries – risk being forgotten, given that they do not represent an immediate and easily measurable return on investment.

Yet losing or failing to create such public spaces brings costs. As the report underlines, the availability of public spaces and facilities can be a major factor in city and community attractiveness (p4).

On a purely economic level, this can lead to higher property prices and tax returns (p4). Taking a broader perspective, they can lead to greater trust, less social isolation, and more faith in government (p3).

The report provides a useful overview of the issues to bear in mind in including public space into broader urban development strategies. It highlights the importance of:

  • Inclusive planning (rather than top-down decision making by city halls);
  • Finding solutions for ongoing operation and maintenance (not just focusing on capital expenditure);
  • Resisting the privatisation of space; and
  • Developing a capacity to plan strategically

For example, it suggests that there is value in ensuring flexibility in public spaces in order to allow for responsiveness to need (p39), in creating clusters of services that help build a sense of space (p13), in recognising and making use of historically and/or culturally significant buildings (p18), and in ensuring that other rules and laws (on licensing, or potentially copyright) work to favour use of these spaces (p25).

The report is also firm in underlining that just because a space is public, it doesn’t make it accessible or welcoming. Factors ranging from criminality to distance or a lack of physical accessibility can reduce the quality of spaces, in particular for different groups (p38).

As the report underlines, ‘to unlock the value of public spaces, cities must adopt effective strategies across their life cycles within specific contexts to plan, design, develop, deliver, and maintain these assets—always prioritizing their value to people by making them accessible, inclusive, and attractive to diverse individuals and communities’ (p30).


Libraries as Public Spaces

The report’s inclusion of indoor public spaces is welcome, and certainly reflects the experience of the libraries themselves, where there has long been an understanding of the value of library spaces alongside library collections.

The positives it sets out also tally with reflections within the field about the contribution that libraries can make to well-being, a sense of community and solidarity, and to the vibrancy of an area.

From pop-up libraries or mobile libraries, which can represent a first step towards ‘reclaiming’ an area for public use (such as in Beijing, where creating a small children’s library meant that a new project became more attractive for families – p213) to opening institutions as new public spaces and hubs of activities, libraries clearly can be part of any public space strategy.

As an example of the latter, the report draws on the example of Gusandong Library Village, in Seoul, Republic of Korea (p321). In response to demand from residents, many of whom were families, a cluster of older buildings were repurposed to create a library alongside other services. In an area that had been culturally under-served, Gusandong gained a new centre which has proved a strong draw for youth in particular, and which has won prizes for architecture while preserving the character and shape of the area.

Other examples mentioned include that of Medellín, Colombia, where libraries alongside cable-cars and public outdoor escalators helped improve access to services and create a sense of belonging, and so turn Medellín into a model of ‘social urbanism’ and innovation (p6).

Yet there are also issues to bear in mind. Many of the issues and concerns mentioned in the previous section apply to libraries, both in terms of the way they are planned by local and regional governments, and in the way they operate themselves.

Responsible authorities certainly need to consider the need for ongoing support for libraries, beyond initial investments. They also need to ensure that libraries are able to respond to – and work with – their communities in order to provide the best service possible.

At a system level, they should work to give everyone as easy an access as possible to high-quality libraries alongside other amenities. While the report does not single library directors and librarians out itself, there is the implication that they, like other stakeholders, should be involved in decision-making.

Libraries themselves of course also have responsibilities to ensure that they are not only open, but also welcoming. The World Bank report indeed suggests that libraries are only semi-open, given the potential need for registration or other limits on access to and use of facilities (p49-50).

This is not a characterisation that is necessary particularly welcome – or even accurate – for many, but it is clear that there is a perception that may need to be addressed.



That the World Bank should recognise the importance of public spaces in general – and libraries in particular – is certainly welcome. It underlines that the need to consider not just short-term economic growth, but also well-being, social cohesion, culture and liveability is now in the mainstream.

In taking this approach, of course, the World Bank also underlines a number of challenges which will be familiar to libraries both in their own operations and in their advocacy to governments and other funders. The report, hopefully, will act to accelerate progress in both, and so better places to live for all.


Key Advocacy Messages

  • Public spaces – indoor and outdoor – are an essential ingredient in creating attractive, liveable cities.
  • Libraries can and should be part of this strategy, with the World Bank citing examples from Korea to Colombia to back up this message.
  • To achieve success, local and regional governments should give individual libraries the flexibility and funding to respond to needs, and promote library systems that offer equitable access across their territories.


* Kaw, Jon Kher, Hyunji Lee, and Sameh Wahba, editors. 2020.
The Hidden Wealth of Cities: Creating, Financing, and Managing Public Spaces. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-1449-5. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

Essential, Meaningful, Equal? The World Wide Web at 31

The need for resilience in the face of a crisis lay behind the creation of one of the key forerunners of the World Wide Web – ARPAnet. Through facilitating more direct communication between people, the goal was to be able to cope with the consequences of a nuclear attack destroying parts of the network.

Today, on the 31st birthday of the creation of the World Wide Web, the crisis faced is not a military one, but a global pandemic which is seeing millions of people obliged to reduce their movements and change their habits in order to slow or stop its spread.

Thanks to the invention of the Web, and its subsequent development, many people are now facing disruption rather than a complete stop to their activities. Clearly this is not the case for everyone, and there are many working in the health, security, food and other sectors who have to continue to work as hard, if not harder than before.

Nonetheless, for everyone else, the possibility to move so much of their professional and social lives online, at least temporarily, is both unprecedented and welcome. For libraries in particular, it means that there is the possibility to continue to provide core services in support of their communities.

This blog explores this situation further, as well as underlining the need for continued effort to ensure that everyone has the possibility to benefit from this possibility.


An Essential Service

As highlighted in the introduction, one of the core features of the World Wide Web is its ability to ‘route around’ challenges and issues, meaning that the loss of any one connection or hub does not mean that all communication is lost.

Clearly the global pandemic faced today is not a threat to the physical integrity of the Web (although there are plenty of other risks here), but to societies and economies. Yet just as the Web and its forerunners were designed to allow life to continue as best possible in the face of a crisis, it now allows a much greater share of our jobs, communication, entertainment and beyond to go on.

This is not least the case when it comes to access to knowledge and culture – the core of the work of libraries.

Clearly the requirement to close public spaces – as already seen in a number of countries – is not something anyone wants to see continue longer than necessary. The virtual cannot replace the physical so easily, and indeed, it is the combination of the two that makes libraries so unique.

However, in those countries which have been most affected so far, we have seen growing use of digital libraries and possibilities to borrow books electronically. It is quite possible that many will be discovering what is available for the first time. Increasingly, libraries are also producing specific pages with reliable information sources about the virus, helping to counteract the far more dubious information that spreads on social media – a great example of libraries drawing on their reputation as places to seek quality information to make a real difference.

Without the Web, it would be almost impossible to continue to help researchers, readers and citizens in general to continue to enjoy their rights of access to information and culture, and to help achieve broader social goals.


Meaningful, Equal?

When, two years ago, the world passed the mark of 50% of the population being internet users, this was a moment for celebration. Progress has – thankfully – continued since then, but it remains the case that millions of people are still cut off. For them, the possibilities that the World Wide Web offers to continue with communication, research, and culture are not available.

Furthermore, among many of those who are counted as internet users, a lot will still face limitations, either in terms of what they can access – slow speeds, low data caps, restrictions on content – or on what they can do with it, notably due to low literacy and in particular digital literacy. The share of people enjoying such meaningful access – fast, unrestricted and empowered – is likely to be far lower than 50% still.

In effect, the potential of the World Wide Web to strengthen social, economic and cultural resilience in the face of a crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak may be concentrated in only some areas, even as the virus itself spreads around the world.

For libraries, this is both a challenge and a call to action. Clearly as institutions with a mission to provide access to information for all, it is uncomfortable when it is only the most digitally empowered who are able to do this. Others – older or more vulnerable people who come to use library computers, young parents who rely on story times, students who need to borrow textbooks from the library because they are too expensive to buy – risk facing more disruption.

Looking into the longer term, however, it is clear that once the current crisis is over, and we look back at how to become even more resilient, the type of work that libraries do will be essential.

For a start, the need for media and information literacy in the face of ‘infodemics’ cannot be underestimated. Libraries are already active in promoting the development of the necessary skills to find, evaluate and apply information critically. These can only become more important into the future.

Secondly, broader efforts to build digital literacy, giving more people the confidence and ability to get the most out of the internet – either at the library or at home – will also pay off if a similar pandemic happens again.

Third, the role of libraries as potential hubs or nodes in networks is also clear, making it easier to bring WiFi or other connections into people’s homes, for example via community networks.

Finally, enabling libraries to build up their digital presence – either through their own or through shared platforms – will also mean that they can offer more to people at distance. While this may have specific benefits for entire populations under lock-down, there are many – people in remote areas, those with disabilities – who may find it difficult to access libraries physically at any moment, and so who will also see advantages all of the time from this sort of work.


Together, these efforts will mean not only that the World Wide Web can make an even more effective contribution to resilience, but also that access to it will become more meaningful, for all. As the Web advances towards middle age, this is certainly a good life goal to be setting.

Library Stat of the Week #9: Globally, one in every 1525 workers is a member of library staff, but it’s 1 in 613 in North America, and 1 in 237 in Estonia!

Library Stat of the Week 9 - Globally, one in every 1525 workers is a member of library staff, but it's 1 in 613 in North America and 1 in 237 in EstoniaLast week, we looked at the number of librarians for every 100 000 people around the world, with Oceania coming in highest at 84 – that’s one in every 1190 people.

But what about library staff in the workforce? How big a share of jobs are as librarians and related staff members (defined as librarians, other professional staff, project staff and assistants)?

This matters because in addition to the role that libraries play in their communities, librarianship in itself is a significant profession, like journalism, publishing, or architecture.

Librarians can also contribute to the success of businesses and other organisations through effective knowledge management and presentation.

In order to understand how big a share of the workforce librarians represent, we therefore compared Library Map of the World data on number of library staff (including librarians, assistants and project staff) with World Bank figures on the size of the workforce.

Globally – or at least for the 111 countries for which we can carry out the analysis – there are 2.1 million library staff in a workforce of 3.2 billion. This means that one in every 1525 workers is a librarian or other professional staff member.

Graph showing the number of library staff as a share of the workforce

But as always, this varies, with North America having the biggest share of librarians in the total workforce – 1 in 613, closely followed by Europe outside of the EU at 1 in 650 (the figure for Europe as a whole is 1 in 759) and with Oceania a little further behind at 1 in 748.

In eleven countries, 1 in 500 or fewer workers is a library staffer, with Estonia coming in top at 1 in 237. Cuba scores highest outside of Europe at 1 in 374 (Chile comes in on 1 in 517).

In Asia, Macao has the largest share of librarians in the workforce (1 in 514), in North America it’s the United States (1 in 589), in Oceania it’s Australia (1 in 590), in the Middle East and North Africa it’s Qatar (1 in 3126) and in Africa it’s Namibia (1 in 3934).

To give a sense of comparison, this means that in a country like the United States, for example, there are almost three times as many library staff as there are architects, while in the UK, there are 50% more library staff than there are people working in publishing.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.