Tim Coates, the former Waterstones managing director, has released The Freckle Report 2021, the second publication from Coates to focus on public library service in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.

The report is based on public data reported by government library agencies (including the Institute for Museum and Library Services in the U.S.) as well as a proprietary consumer survey, “Where Did You Get That Book?” commissioned by Coates explores reading behavior.

“This is the second such report from Coates exploring public library stats in the US, the UK, and Australia,” says Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer. “The topline of the report is on its face eye-opening. In the U.S., there’s been a 31% drop in public library building use over eight years, up to 2018.”


Albanese continues, “I focus on the U.S. figures, but in addition to the 31% decline in library building use cited in the U.S., Coates reports a 22% drop over 10 years in Australia, and a stunning 70% decline in the U.K. since the year 2000.”

The 2021 reader survey, conducted in April, includes the impact of the pandemic on reading behavior.

“In a bit of good news, Coates found that more consumers across all age groups were reading more during the pandemic,” Albanese tells CCC. “In the U.S., 87% of respondents said they made use of a book in 2021.”

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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