ST 7/11: Public libraries in Brazil 2009


Brazil has just carried out a systematic count of all its municipal public libraries. I summarize some of the data below

The  First National Census of Public Municipal Libraries (PML) shows that in 2009

  • 79% of the municipalities had at least one functioning library
  • in 13% public libraries were being planned or in the process of reopening
  • in 8% they were absent (closed, abandoned or had never existed)

The survey showed that

  • PMLs were lending 296 books per month
  • had stocks between two and five thousand volumes (in 35% of the cases)
  • almost half had computer(s) with Internet access (45%)
  • only 29% offered this service to the public

Visits and opening hours

Users tended to visit the localities almost twice a week. They were primarily using it for school related studies (65%).

Almost all libraries were open from Monday through Friday (99%), some on Saturdays (12%), very few on Sundays (1%). In the evenings only 24% kept open.

The majority of the library directors were women (84%) with higher education (57%).

420 municipalities had no PML. In these, the Ministry of Culture initiated the (re)establishment of libraries, by distributing library kits consisting of two thousand books, furniture and equipment, to a value of R$ 50.000.



Brazil must have about five thousand municipalities (420 = 8%). The number of municipalities with libraries is about four thousand.


The IFLA survey in 2007 registred 4.800 public libraries. OCLC says that the total stock in 2008 was 6,0 million volumes. This gives an average of 1250 volumes per library

The first number corresponds well with the number of municipalities having libraries.The second number seem too low compared with the census.

Annual lending is

300 books/month * 12 * 4800 = 17 million volumes per year

The population is about 190 million. The numbers correspond to:

  • 0.09 volumes per person per year


Since the typical library has 2-5.000 books and lends out 3.600 volumes a year, the typical turnover rate is between 0.7 and 1.8. This does not indicate very heavy use of the existing stock.

The cause may be moderate demand, many books that are out of date, or both.





2 Responses to “ST 7/11: Public libraries in Brazil 2009”

  1. P 50/11: Library development in Dominican Republic « Plinius Says:

    […] ST 7/11: Public libraries in Brazil 2009. A national census. […]

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