Half of public libraries in Romania closed between 1990-2022

Romania had 16,665 public libraries in 1990, but roughly half of them, or 8,207, are now closed, while the number of registered readers dropped from 6 million to 2 million.

Hundreds of libraries closed every year between 1990 and 2022, with the exception of 1995 and 1996, when 277 new libraries were established. There are now 8,458 such institutions left in the country, be they national, public, specialized, or even private, according to Digi24.

The number of readers decreased in a similar fashion to the libraries. Back in 1999, around 6.1 million people borrowed or checked out a book at least once. Fast-forward to 2019, the number halved to 3.1 million, and dropped further, to 2.1 million, by 2021.

Examples of increasingly abandoned libraries abound. Only 3,944 people visited one of the largest public libraries in the country, the “Carol I” Central University Library, in 2021 – perhaps, in part, due to the fact that the library was often closed during the pandemic. Even still, the pre-pandemic year of 2019 saw only 9,035 people visiting the same library.

The Romanian National Library fared somewhat better, with 107,194 registered visitors last year, but many similar institutions are seeing fewer and fewer readers. The Satu Mare County Library, for example, was visited by only 1,599 people last year, 60% of whom were high school students, of which 71% were girls. The number represents less than half the visitors that the same library had in 2018.

Meanwhile, local officials say that the libraries that are still standing do not have the funds to acquire more recent books.

A 2016 Eurostat survey found that only 6.2% of Romanians regularly read books. Finland (16.8%), Poland (16.4%), and Estonia (15%) took the top three spots in the same ranking.

radu@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Mikael Damkier | Dreamstime.com)

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Half of public libraries in Romania closed between 1990-2022

Romania had 16,665 public libraries in 1990, but roughly half of them, or 8,207, are now closed, while the number of registered readers dropped from 6 million to 2 million.

Hundreds of libraries closed every year between 1990 and 2022, with the exception of 1995 and 1996, when 277 new libraries were established. There are now 8,458 such institutions left in the country, be they national, public, specialized, or even private, according to Digi24.

The number of readers decreased in a similar fashion to the libraries. Back in 1999, around 6.1 million people borrowed or checked out a book at least once. Fast-forward to 2019, the number halved to 3.1 million, and dropped further, to 2.1 million, by 2021.

Examples of increasingly abandoned libraries abound. Only 3,944 people visited one of the largest public libraries in the country, the “Carol I” Central University Library, in 2021 – perhaps, in part, due to the fact that the library was often closed during the pandemic. Even still, the pre-pandemic year of 2019 saw only 9,035 people visiting the same library.

The Romanian National Library fared somewhat better, with 107,194 registered visitors last year, but many similar institutions are seeing fewer and fewer readers. The Satu Mare County Library, for example, was visited by only 1,599 people last year, 60% of whom were high school students, of which 71% were girls. The number represents less than half the visitors that the same library had in 2018.

Meanwhile, local officials say that the libraries that are still standing do not have the funds to acquire more recent books.

A 2016 Eurostat survey found that only 6.2% of Romanians regularly read books. Finland (16.8%), Poland (16.4%), and Estonia (15%) took the top three spots in the same ranking.

radu@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Mikael Damkier | Dreamstime.com)

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