Hereford Library Users' Group


All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries

Further to our blog of November 2nd last, HLUG are pleased to report that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries has now been successfully launched in December last. It is backed by CILIP – the organisation that supports professional librarians. APPG’s are cross-party groups that allow both MP’s and Lords with a shared interest in a topic to come together to share information and issues.

As we indicated previously, Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson is the Chair of the APPG and hosted the launch last December.  The purpose of this All-Party Group is to set out a pro-active and positive agenda to promote libraries. The group can set the agenda and share best practice. Already topics up for discussion will be skills in the sector, school libraries and library services and public libraries. A total of 59 MP’s and Lords have signed up for the Group.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was also at the launch and said that he supported library campaigners, but that it was down to individual local authorities to decide how they deliver services. (Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to your editor). However, he went on to say that the Government would not make it easier for local authorities to shirk responsibilities with the comment that “It is important to realise that Libraries are still a £1 billion service. We have maintained the statutory duty for local authorities to provide a comprehensive library service and that is non-negotiable. But local authorities are in the driving seat for running libraries.” (Ah, now there’s the rub……). But at least the profession now has a powerful advocate in high places and a means to guide the APPG in the right direction. HLUG will be watching with interest.



Hertfordshire Schools Library Service set to close in 2012

A recent Hertfordshire County Council report recommended the service should close following declining buy-in from schools and uncertainty about the amount of funding the service would receive from central education budgets.

Schools Library Services provide professional support to schools to help manage their libraries. They provide books and resources to support teaching and help encourage reading for pleasure and develop a reading culture in schools.

Annie Mauger, CILIP Chief Executive, responded to the news:

“We are very shocked and saddened. This is a bitter blow to the hundreds of schools and thousands of children who benefit from the support of this service. The proposal to closure the service reflects the difficult decisions that both schools and local authorities have to make. The decline in numbers of schools buying into the service because of reductions in funding and the cuts to local authority library budgets means the service cannot subsidise losses. Vital support for literacy and learning will be lost.

The end result of this decision is pupils getting less support in a time where literacy levels and skills for life are more essential than ever. Hertfordshire County Council may feel that they have no choices as this is a traded service, but my concern is that this will create a domino effect across the country.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust added:

“Schools Library Services are a vital ingredient in effective school library provision for children across the country. Hertfordshire’s Schools Library Service has an iconic status as a centre of excellence in this field. If a service that is one of the biggest and best in the country is set to close, this threatens every Schools Library Service in the country.”

The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals and the National Literacy Trust asks that government responds to the Estelle Morris Report from the School Library Commission and that an investigation into sustainable models for future provision of Schools Library Services should be taken forward.

Michael Morpurgo, the children’s author has also put in an impassioned plea for the service to be retained. He was born in St. Albans and is saddened by the news that one of the countries best-respected schools library services may close. He felt that the decision was short-sighted and ill-judged. See  Alan Gibbons blog to the right of this blog to find out more……


All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries to be launched soon…

An All-Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries will be launched in December. The Chair will be Justin Tomlinson, the Conservative MP for Swindon. Mr. Tomlinson is already a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Literacy Group. You can read more about him on the Public Libraries News site which has a link in the right-hand column of this blog. You can also lobby him via the PLN site. Lets hope that soon there will be an outbreak of common sense over the need for public libraries, particularly since literacy levels amongst children in the UK are lower than ever, and reading is known to improve the mental health and memory of older people. Perhaps at long last, we shall get some joined up thinking and the recognition that both school and public libraries have a huge part to play in both education and public health and well-being.


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%).


Ofsted report supports use of school libraries to improve pupils reading skills

Our Chairman, John Hitchin, has sent me the following taken from the Bookseller online on 27.05.11:

“A new Ofsted report into the teaching of English, “Excellence in English”, has highlighted schools’ investment in books, home reading, book borrowing from the school library and events such as book fairs and storytelling events as instrumental in helping children develop as “keen readers”.

The report’s author studied 20 schools that were trying to raise standards of English. It concluded that a rise in pupils’ performance in English at a number of the schools included in the report “reflects the impact of a popular library, lots of reading by teachers, and the provision of good quality, up-to-date texts to stimulate pupils”. The report also found that, where provision is outstanding, boys fare as well as girls in English. This Ofsted report comes at a time when many schools are closing their school libraries. Alan Gibbons, who heads the Campaign for the Book, warned that he expected more school library closures to be announced over the summer. “There has been a rash of them and there’s no doubt that there are more to come,” he said.

A spokesman for Ofsted confirmed that Ofsted inspectors are not required to report on libraries as part of their schools inspections, and that position was unlikely to change.”

Editors comment: “Let us hope that some of the staff in schools which plan to jettison their libraries read this report and reassess their options”.

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