NEWS INDEPTH

ASCEL responds to Libraries Report

The Association of Senior Children's and Education Librarians (ASCEL) has called for a greater focus on children's public and schools library services in its response to last year's Independent Report on Public Libraries.

ASCEL said it supported the key recommendations made in the report (see link, below) and welcomed "the recognition in the report for libraries' role in supporting literacy and learning; digital literacy and fluency; empowerment; community engagement and economic development".

ASCEL also welcomed the acknowledgement of the benefits children and young people gain from engaging with libraries and that a "re-energised library network" (including school library services) "would be an established and natural partner for every school".

However, ASCEL also voiced its disappointment that the impact of library services on children and young people did not have a higher profile throughout the report and urged the proposed Taskforce "to take a special interest in the significance of library services for children and young people".

ASCEL added, "Children's use of libraries is sustaining despite the challenges libraries and communities face in making services available - the recent CIPFA data shows that children's fiction loans on 2013/2014 are actually 5.7% greater than they were in 2004/2005 and this year's Summer Reading Challenge reached a record 839,627 children. Children still need and want to use libraries.

"Public libraries are crucial to enabling children to have the best start in life. Public libraries' work in the early years through rhyme times, parenting support, delivering Bookstart and through extensive partnerships helps to lay the foundations for early language, literacy, emotional and social development and contributes to a wide range of school readiness indicators."

ASCEL highlighted other areas in which libraries' work with families, schools and young people was vital, including school readiness, the development of literacy and reading for pleasure in schools, and support for children in areas of deprivation.

ASCEL added, "As children and young people become more independent, access to library services becomes more of an issue, especially in areas of deprivation. The (soon to be published) headline report from the CIPFA Children's Public Library User survey 2013/2014 highlights that children in the more deprived areas are more likely than children in the least deprived areas to use libraries, and are also less able to travel to reach far flung libraries.

"With school library services closing or under threat and budget reductions also hitting school libraries, access to reading and resources can be limited for these children and young people. The Read On Get On campaign emphasises the importance of reading as a way of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. For these children and young people the importance of an accessible high quality library offer is vital."

With the right investment and national and local government vision and support, ASCEL responded, "libraries could make a huge difference to the nation's children".

You can download ASCEL's full response as a PDF, below, and the link is to the full Independent Library Report for England, published in December 2014.

06/02/2015ASCEL responds to Libraries Report
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