LibrariesWest is made up of 7 library services: Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, Dorset, North Somerset, Poole, Somerset, and South Gloucestershire. These are all neighbouring local authorities, creating an overall 'coast-to-coast' area that spans across much of the South West of England.

Geography is important to our data reporting and data analysis. Library users may live mainly within the boundaries of the library service they are registered with, but we also see significant crossover of usage. At LibrariesWest if you have a library card you have access to all libraries and items in those 7 authorities. People can pick up items from any library, and return them to any other library. We also have many members who visit from outside of any of those authorities - particularly in neighbouring areas outside of LibrariesWest.

Data on these authority boundaries allow us to match members to different areas. But it is also important to use other geographical boundaries, such as census based geography (super output areas). These are smaller areas that have statistical information assigned to them, such as the Index of Multiple Deprivation, an indicator of the relative deprivation within an area. Reporting on our membership in this way means we can make some better estimations about the reach of the library services, and which areas are being served.

It is difficult to make firm conclusions from this data, especially as library membership is only a subset of the population in any area, but these geography files provide supporting information for some of the geographic references within our open data.

Open data

The data listed in the Geography section of our open data does not belong to LibrariesWest, we have extracted open data from Ordnance Survey (OS), and from the Office for National Statistics for the LibrariesWest area. In the documentation for each section we will list the licence terms, and provide links to the full datasets.

Thoughts from the Systems Team