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Give UK school children the same legal rights to Libraries as prisoners have.

Give UK school children the same legal rights to Libraries as prisoners have.


Why this is important

Every child deserves a great start in life, the kind of start that allows them not just to survive but to flourish.

There is a charity called Good Gifts. They donate many good things to developing world countries; a lot of the incentives promote education to better society. You can buy a village a library, pay for a teacher to spend a year in a village, donate to a mobile library or buy a degree for a developing country’s child. Education is the key. It’s obvious. There is also a gift where you can buy a child whose life is “devoid of books” a year’s worth of books. The gift promises to promote a “boost to language” and “a love of books.” Sadly, the country you can do this for is the UK. The UK is now a charity case for literacy and it’s time for a change.

I grew up with libraries and recently helped save my village library from being shut down by our local council. It was hard work and throughout the difficult process I got the terrible feeling that decision makers were towing party political lines and misunderstanding the essence of libraries. I work with many schools nationwide and can honestly tell you that attitude and approach to libraries in schools is a bit of a mess, and this has a knock-on effect in the public arena and with social attitude.

Some schools even shut their libraries! Why are schools allowed to do away with libraries altogether? Because politicians are more concerned about monetary benefits than the value of libraries, as demonstrated by this response:

“Thank you for your letter concerning the closure of Grove Library. Your point of view is well understood but it is difficult to provide a service to a small minority, however appreciated. It has become necessary to ensure value for money in this era of budgetary constraint and regrettably there will be casualties in the decisions made.”

The problem is that providing a school library for children is not statutory like they are in prisons. Bad quick fix decisions are made to save money and the children are worse off for that. It’s simply not good enough.

Studies now prove what we all know in our hearts; there is more to reading than just learning to read. Learning to read is, in fact, just the beginning. The proven advantage a child who is raised in a book culture and reads regularly has over those that do not extends into more positive social development and neurologically measurable social, linguistic and academic advantages. Your life is enriched if you’re raised in a book culture and it’s a lifetime gift.

The UK has, over the past ten years, slid down the global literacy scale. Children are not flourishing with books; they are being failed by adults. It’s a fact we should all be ashamed of. The fact that children can now leave school with such low literacy levels and no love of reading is a national shame. School libraries are vital hubs in stopping and reversing this national embarrassment and offering a more enriched future for our children.

Please stand with me and demand that every school child in the UK has the same legal rights to a library and a professional librarian in their school. The same rights a person in a UK prison has. A well funded and professionally staffed library in each school will only make the country a better place.

“I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.” ~ Carl Sagan, Cosmos

The evidence is in. School libraries are a long term investment in a better society. Please support and please, please share!

Posted November 21, 2013
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