Leading authors call for libraries to be compulsory in UK schools

A campaign run by the Society of Authors, a leading writers' body, and headed by a number of leading authors, is lobbying the government to demand that there is a library built in every UK school.

Award-winning authors including Sarah Waters, David Almond, Philip Reeve and Malorie Blackman are asking Schools minister Nick Gibb to ensure that the specific requirement for libraries in schools is written into legislation.

"How can the provision of a library service be compulsory in prisons but not in schools?" asks writer Malorie Blackman.

The bid to ensure library provision across all Primary and Secondary schools is due to the fact that there are "proven links" between things such as reading and attainment, according to the campaign group. The initiative would also work to help children read more effectively.

While the Department for Education argues that it would like to realise the vision of a library in each school, they feel that "this should be a local decision, not one mandated by government" and that it is "up to schools to target resources appropriately" in this sphere.

A survey from the School Library Association found that budgets had been cut at approximately 80% of school libraries, a decline that needs to be reversed according to the Society of Authors' general secretary Nicola Solomon. In a letter to the Schools Minister, she stated:

"The absence of school libraries and trained librarians is deplorable – particularly in Primary schools.

"Over the last decade libraries and the use of school libraries' services has been undervalued and neglected. It is our belief that this needs to change and that all Primary and Secondary schools should be required by law to have a library, and dedicated librarians should be compulsory in Secondary schools and all but the smallest Primary schools."

Kevin Crossley-Holland, children's author and the new president of the School Library Association, outlined the importance of school libraries, saying that they should provide the 'cornerstone' for all schools.
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