School libraries ‘under threat’ due to funding cuts

School libraries are under growing threat because of concerns over the closure of vital support services run by local councils, new research suggests. This is from the Telegraph…

Pupils may be denied access to new books and other resources amid fears over the future of specialist library advisers across England and Wales, it was claimed.

Figures suggest that half of school library services run by local authorities are being subjected to a major internal review and as many as a fifth could be shut altogether.

Closure is likely to rob schools of new editions, teaching resources, literacy support for staff and help arranging events and author visits, it emerged, placing school libraries themselves under threat.

The conclusions were made in a study by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

But the Department for Education criticised the study, saying it relied on a small-scale sample and failed to present the full picture.

It comes amid fears that many pupils are already failing to read enough because of the growing influence of games consoles, television and the internet.

Research published earlier this year found just three-in-10 school age children read every day in their own time compared with four-in-10 seven years ago.

Barbara Band, the organisation’s president, said: “The threat to so many schools library services is a serious concern.

“Across the country they contribute to children’s attainment and education by promoting reading, teaching essential research skills, improving literacy, lending books and resources, supporting teachers, arranging events and author visits.”

Researchers surveyed 92 local authorities in England and Wales. Of those, 62 per cent said their council provided a school library service.

It was revealed that library support was being reviewed in half of councils with a responsibility for providing services. A quarter said that “closure was a possibility” as part of the review.

The study said: “If these results were replicated across England and Wales, 22 schools library services (one-in-five) could be facing the possibility of closure.”

The study also revealed that four-in-10 councils were cutting funding for libraries this year compared with a year earlier.

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