Culture & Society News Poland

Warsaw has highest number of public libraries per capita in the world

Warsaw, Poland – According to the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF), Warsaw is the world’s number one city in terms of public libraries per resident.

With 11.5 public libraries per 100,000 citizens, the Polish capital tops the WCCF ranking comprising several dozen major cities all around the world.

After Warsaw, other book-worm havens include Seoul (11 public libraries per 100,000 population), Brussels (10), Paris (8.5), Helsinki (6.2), Stockholm (5.9), Edinburgh (5.5), Milan (5.4) and Shenzhen (5.4).

At the bottom end of the ranking, you might have trouble finding a public library if you find yourself in Lagos and Chengdu (0.1 public library per 100,000 inhabitants), Bogota (0.3), Istanbul (0.4), Singapore (0.5), Hong Kong (1.1), as well as Shanghai (1.3), Rome (1.4) or Madrid (1.5).

New York City is estimated to have around 2.4 public libraries per 100,000 residents, slightly more than Moscow (2.3 / 100,000).

Other Central European capitals (Prague, Budapest and Bratislava) were not taken into account in the WCCF study.

Despite this abundance of public libraries in Warsaw, recent reports have pointed to a slow decline of the Polish population’s reading habits in the past few years.

According to an annual study by the Polish National Library, slightly more than one third of Poles (37%) read at least one book in 2018. Since 2004, roughly 10% of Poland’s population read seven or more books per year, a level twice as low as in 2000.

To encourage holiday-makers to indulge in summertime reads, the northern Polish city of Gdansk introduced a ‘Library on the Beach’ program offering both Polish and foreign-language books.