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School libraries: under-used and under-funded

Research published today by the independent national charity Booktrust to coincide with the launch of Children’s Book Week has revealed the desperate situation faced by underdeveloped and under-funded school libraries.

Booktrust reported the statistic that over 92 % of secondary schools and 61% of primary schools are spending far below the recommended figure per head on books for their libraries.  

Booktrust worked with LISU at Loughborough University to arrive at a recommended spending figure on library books per head for primary and secondary schools.

 

The recommended spending figure per head is £10 for primary schools and £14 per head for secondary schools. This figure is based on fiction and non-fiction books and does not include materials such as set texts, textbooks or study guides.  

Many primary and secondary schools are failing to meet the recommendations of the Chartered Institute of Library and Professionals (CILIP) of an average stock of 13 books per pupil and 17 books per pupil for those over the age of 16. The average number of books in secondary school libraries was just 8 per pupil, well below CILIP’s recommended figures.

 The research also revealed that:

  • primary schools spend an average of £10.39 per head per year on the library and £8.04 on books for loan.
  • Secondary schools spend an average of £4.28 per head per year on the library and £2.67 on books for loan.
  • on average pupils in secondary schools only borrowed one book each per term.
  • just 1% of those who run libraries in primary schools have a professional library qualification. 58% of secondary school libraries are run by staff without a professional qualification
  • 1/3 of respondents reported that the person who ran the primary school library did not have specialist knowledge of children’s literature. In secondary schools, 22% of respondents had no specialist knowledge of children’s literature
  • 85% of secondary schools reported that expenditure on the library in 2006-07 was around the same or lower than the previous year.
  • 72% of primary school respondents stated that if they had a bigger whole school budget they would spend more on the library

 Dr Roland Marden, Bookstart National Research and Evaluation Coordinator:

“Research suggests that children who have access to good school libraries reap dividends: access to books makes for good readers, good readers make good learners. Yet Booktrust’s survey found that school libraries are often under-used and undervalued. In many cases across the country, school libraries are failing to fulfill their potential because of limited access to or low levels of funding on, books. We encourage schools to review their provision and renew their commitment to this vital resource by ensuring that their library is properly resourced and made easily available to all pupils.”

 

 Booktrust recommendations:

  • Booktrust recommends that all secondary school libraries should be staffed by at least one person with a professional library qualification and knowledge of children’s literature.
  • Booktrust recommends that all primary school libraries should be staffed by at least one person with a qualification in children’s literature. 
  • Booktrust recommends that all schools increase their spending on books to the recommended levels.
  • All schools should allocate a specific budget for the library within their whole school budget
  • Primary schools should receive advice on how to manage and run an effective school library in order to make the most of their resources

For the full report, please see: http://www.booktrusted.co.uk/schoollibraries/ 

 

About Booktrust

Booktrust is an independent charity dedicated to promoting books and reading to people of all ages. Booktrust is responsible for a number of successful national reading promotions, sponsored book prizes and creative reading projects aimed at encouraging readers to discover and enjoy books. These include the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, the Children’s Laureate, the Get London Reading campaign, the Nestle Children’s Book Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize and Bookstart, the national programme that works through locally based organisations to give a free pack of books to young children, with guidance materials for parents and carers.

 

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