One of the key attractions of libraries as places to deliver public policy goals are librarians and other library staff – professional and qualified staff, plus project staff and assistants.
With either specific library qualifications or bringing other skills, they are vital for ensuring that users receive the support they need, and keeping spaces welcoming and friendly. Through their initiatives, libraries can become skills hubs, cultural centres, and portals to open government information, to give just a few examples.
While there is a growing reliance on volunteers, and even experimentation with staff-less libraries, in some countries, none of this lessens the value of professional staff.
Library Map of the World Data already gives an idea of how many library staff there are globally – over 1.5 million!
Comparing this with population data from the World Bank allows us to go further and understand how many librarians and other library staff are at work for every 100 000 people – the size of a large town or small city.
Looking across regions, and countries for which data is available, it is possible to show that Oceania has the highest number of library staff per 100 000 people – 84.4, with North America close behind at 83.3. Globally, the figure is 26.3 – roughly one librarian for every 3 800 people.
Nationally, the variation is much stronger – Belarus has the highest number of librarians per 100 000 people at 226.8, with Estonia not far behind at 221.
In other regions, Macao China has the most in Asia (121.4), Cuba in Latin America (119.9), Australia in Oceania (89.8), the United States in North America (86.1), Qatar the most in the Middle East and North Africa (24.5) and Namibia the most in Africa (10).
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.