Hereford Library Users' Group


Do your children read?

New National Literacy Trust research* of 18,141 children reveals a polarised nation of young readers with 1 in 6 reporting that they don’t read a single book in a month, while 1 in 10 say they read more than 10 books in a month.

This divide between the “reads” and the “read-nots” is concerning because the research shows reading frequency has a direct link to attainment, as 8 in 10 children who read over 10 books a month are above average readers compared to just 3 in 10 of those who rarely read.

Fresh approaches are urgently needed to encourage young people to read more. However, the number of children who never read a book suggests the government has a huge challenge on its hands if Michael Gove’s “50 books a year” initiative is to reach every child.

The research also found that:

•77% of children who read for longer than an hour at a time are above average readers, while just 4% who read for over an hour are below the level expected of them.

•Only 30% of children who read for up to 10 minutes at a time are above average readers, with 20% below the reading expected level for their age.

•Text messages are the most popular thing for children to read outside of class with 60% saying they read texts outside of class at least once a month.

•Children who read text messages but not fiction books are twice as likely to be below average readers compared to those who also read fiction (10% versus 5%).



Ledbury Library

The Hereford Times today (18.8.2011) reports that long-awaited work to move Ledbury Library into the grade II Master’s House will begin “soon”. Plans to renovate the Master’s House were apparently first mooted over ten years ago – why does it take Hereford Council so long to take action? And the bid comes two years after the Council dropped a £3m scheme to build a new library at St. Katherine’s. The plans for this building were innovative and attractive and would have cost very little more than this scheme to renovate the Master’s House. One might say that we should be grateful for any kind of progress in Ledbury as the existing library is (in my opinion as a professional librarian) poorly stocked and almost inaccessible for the disabled or anyone who has difficulty in climbing stairs. I trust that the architects and local contractor will take the latter into account and that the new library will be larger and better supplied with some decent reading matter. Ledbury as a market town has a nice “buzz” about it – the present library does not seem to reflect this.

Latest riots and looting are an eye-opener….

Surely it cannot just be your editor that has noticed that in the frenzy of looting and burning that has gone on in many of our cities no-one seems to have attacked or looted a bookshop? Even looters in Lewisham who met outside the public library before starting their rampage through the town centre did little or no harm to the building – they preferred to attack mobile phone shops, steal electrical goods and rampage through clothing shops stealing trainers, sports clothes and designer goods. What does this say about our society? That these people don’t read (many were illiterate) and aren’t interested in books? That they prefer the instant gratification of iPods, Blackberries and Blu-Ray? And they expect the rest of us to offer them jobs despite going through school (or playing truant) and failing to achieve literacy, numeracy or any social skills? Instead of blaming “society” how about these people realising that you actually have to work hard at school to get anywhere these days and show a sense of responsibility? It all goes back to the parents and if they don’t enforce discipline and set an example – what are the children supposed to do? Neither is it any good blaming the present Government – the causes go much deeper than that.


eClassics from the British Library

The British Library is now offering an eClassic app for the iPad. The library is making digital copies of more than 40,000 classic books available. Texts appear in fully digitised form, complete with original page markings and illustrations – as opposed to the plain formatting associated  with other types of eBooks. All these works date from the 18th and 19th centuries and include novels, poetry and other historical accounts. Users will have to pay a monthly subscription of £1.99 to access the collection.

For more information go to the British Library website at


Weasel words from Ed Vaizey on Public Libraries

Whilst your editor was away on yet another motor sport escapade, John Hitchin, our HLUG Chairman kindly drew my attention to the joint Local Government Association/MLA report on the Future Libraries programme. You can read the report by clicking on the following link:

John says he will make further comment in due course, but in the meantime readers can see what “Voices in the Library” have to say about it by clicking on the link below:

If readers look at the above and click on the phrase “Volunteers should not be seen as a solution” they will be taken to a site called “Words with Jam” which has a very good interview with Jim Brooks, the Chairman of the Friends of the Little Chalfont Library in Buckinghamshire on the reality of running a Community Library. This is not anything like as simple as it sounds and will only work where you have the right mix of money, expertise and enthusiasm. Voluntary libraries on sink estates are just not on, neither will they succeed in rural areas like Herefordshire or Gloucestershire where people are working 18 hours a day just to make ends meet. A sensible and informed view on Community Libraries which puts the MLA report in context and, as an ex-public librarian, makes me grind my teeth. Few people seem impressed by Ed Vaizeys’s promises. Weasel words indeed. Who does the Culture Minister think he is fooling? Readers may be pleased to know that the Womens Institute are “disappointed” by the report and you can read what they have to say about it on the Bookseller website at

So the battle continues …..please have your say below.

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