Libraries – the Vibrant Hub of the School but Being Cut Back in Local Communities

booksA national strategy has been developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA (representing local authorities in Scotland) to ensure that all schools have a ‘vibrant’ library.

The new strategy,  developed by listening to what young people said they found important to them about having a good school library aims to:

support the improvement of literacy and numeracy, boost attainment across the curriculum, and enable opportunities for family learning. “

 John Swinney,Deputy First Minister in the Scottish Government,  said:

John Swinney

Deputy First Minister John Swinney (Photo Scot Gov)

“School libraries have a vital part to play, throughout the learner journey from 3-18. They support literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing, improving attainment across the Curriculum.

“This strategy seeks to make libraries the vibrant hub and epicentre of our schools, promoting an appreciation of literature, an understanding of information literacy and a place of contact, friendship, dialogue and reassurance.

“I am pleased to endorse this strategy and look forward to working with stakeholders, headteachers and library staff to implement it over the next five years.”

You can read the full strategy here: Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools

It states:

“A School Library Strategy Implementation Group will be established, bringing together key partners with a commitment to work together to deliver the vision in this document that every child and young person in Scotland should have access to a vibrant school library service.”

The strategy contains 20 action points and is the first of its kind in the UK.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA Children and Young People spokesperson said:

“We are pleased that the National School Library Strategy recognises the many practical and innovative ways in which local authorities deliver library services to children and young people.

“The strategy will be a valuable blueprint for all of those involved in developing and delivering school library services to ensure all children and young people get the best from their education.”

And Yet Many Local Authorities Are Cutting Public Libraries

Public libraries across Scotland have been starved of funds by local authorities and some closed down. In Orkney where public library usage is very good we have a service that is valued but which also sees the tightening of its finances. Orkney Archive Recognised Nationally for its Valuable Service

Orkney Library K Armet

Orkney Library and Archive, Kirkwall photo: K Armet

Whilst it is great news that the school library is to be seen as an integral part of  the learning experience it comes at a time when local authorities are strimming back their public library service. A public library where parents can go with their child outwith the school day. A place where young people can safely go online,  explore the many shelves of books or research local history. It’s a place where the very young can enjoy Book Bug sessions. Orkney has a mobile service that travels out into the community and the islands. For those who cannot get out to the library it can  send a box of books to the person’s home.

And what is always special as a child or a young person going to the public library is that it is not part of the school day. You go there out of pleasure, interest and curiosity – not for  a literacy attainment target. There is a freedom attached to exploring the public library that all ages experience when they visit.

So yes it is good that school libraries get a boost with this national strategy and a focus on them. But it is bizarre that some of the  councils who have been involved in developing this strategy have at the same time cut the public library service which serves their whole community.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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1 reply »

  1. When I was a little girl, my Mum took me to the library every Saturday, when we went into town to do the shopping. We’d go to the fish market, the meat market, the fruit & veg market, the open air market where ‘Burma Johnny’ sold toys – just for the fun of looking at what was there, and any other shops, as needed. We’d then visit the library, where I got to choose my books, then, if I’d behaved myself, we went to Haganbachs the bakers, for a meringue, together. That was then, this is now – when a trip to Tesco to fill up your trolly covers the food shopping, then back in the car, and home. And so, where is the space, and time for the library, unless you make that time? And where is the space and time for that connection between a parent and child?
    Different times.

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