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School libraries

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the National Literacy Trust are launching a commission to examine the future of school library provision in England. The initiative will assess the role of the school library in the 21st century school. Roy Clare, said, “We launched this commission to answer current inconsistencies in the school library services and to offer effective examples and support for school libraries in the future."

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the National Literacy Trust are launching a commission to examine the future of school library provision in England. The joint initiative will assess the role of the school library in the 21st century school.

The commission will focus on the definition and role of a modern school library; the characteristics of effective school library provision; the agencies and partnerships which can best provide and support this model; and the articulation of a national improvement agenda. The final report will provide an informed and proactive vision for the future of school libraries and their role in supporting learning outcomes.

The commission will be chaired by Baroness Estelle Morris, who began her career as a teacher and has held a number of positions in government including Secretary of State for Education & Skills (2001-2002). Baroness Morris will be joined by commissioners including Peter Wanless Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, Jean Gross, Communication Champion and Catherine Blanshard, Chief Officer of Libraries, Arts and Heritage for Leeds City Council.

The commission will ask schools, local authorities, education professionals and any organisation or individual who is interested in the future of school libraries to submit their views and ideas. Throughout the commission there will be ongoing dialogue with national and local government and other policy makers with an interest in the development of school libraries as well as commercial service providers. These bodies will be updated and briefed ahead of the commission’s final findings in June 2010.

Between 1997 and 2007 pupils supported by schools library service provision dropped from 82% to 66%. An evidence-based examination of the role of the school library in the new education landscape is urgently required as is a fresh and imaginative approach to redefining the role of the school library.

Baroness Estelle Morris said, “Libraries provide children with fantastic educational and social opportunities and the central aim of the commission to look at ways to furnish school libraries with the very best support and advice.”

Museums, Libraries and Archives Chief Executive, Roy Clare, said, “We launched this commission to answer current inconsistencies in the school library services and to offer effective examples and support for school libraries in the future. The Museums, Libraries and Archives and National Literacy Trust partnership will support the vital role that library services play in enabling access to reading and learning. Through a wide range of ‘best practice’ examples, we are able to help library services to plan to deliver for children and families and to help younger people to achieve their full potential.”

Director of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, said, “School libraries are a vital resource for supporting literacy standards. They are powerhouses of reading where children and young people discover their identities as readers and develop appetites for literacy which will equip them to be lifelong learners. As such, school libraries are crucial in enabling students to fulfill their potential. A resource as important as this needs to be rediscovered in the context of a changing educational landscape.”

Notes to editor:

  1. The National Literacy Trust is an independent charity that transforms lives through literacy. We believe that society will only be fair when everyone has the literacy skills they need to communicate, to fulfil their potential and to contribute more to society. We campaign to improve public understanding of the vital importance of literacy, as well as delivering projects and working in partnership to reach those most in need of support.
  2. The commission will be launching a call for evidence from key experts in a roundtable discussion from January to March 2010
  3. The commission’s final report will be released at the end of June 2010.

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