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Libraries 'fundamental' says Hurd, as TRA celebrates Reading Challenge rise

More young people than ever are getting involved in reading schemes at their local libraries, charity The Reading Agency revealed last night (15th December), at an event held at number 11 Downing Street, residence of the chancellor George Osborne.

Meanwhile Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, told The Bookseller that libraries are "fundamental", and "very key in supporting young people".

Frances Osborne, wife of the chancellor, hosted the event held to celebrate the work of young volunteers who had helped 750,000 children to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge scheme run by TRA.

Children who sign up take on the challenge of reading six books during their summer holiday away from school, to keep up their literacy skills and interact with books and the library.

In 2012, 4,382 volunteers aged between 11 and 24 helped younger children to complete the challenge, a 49% rise in volunteers from the previous year. Meanwhile 85% of the volunteers said they would want to continue volunteering in their local libraries.

Hurd, present at the evening, told The Bookseller: "We want to get young people involved in their communities, young people especially, and help people connect with the joy of reading. This project combines all of these things."

He added: "Libraries are fundamental. Many of them are under pressure, but they are very key in supporting young people, and being a fun place where they can discover reading."

Antonio Rizzo, chair of the Association of London Chief Librarians, said: "From our point of view, it's been great to see young people making the most of libraries. All of the young volunteers have really grown from their experiences which is wonderful to see. What's also been interesting is how many boys have been involved."

In 2013 The Reading Agency will be working with the support of the Cabinet Office¹s Social Action Fund, and working alongside the Society of Chief Librarians and the Association of Senior Children's and Educational Librarians to expand similar schemes.

Miranda McKearney, director of The Reading Agency, said: "Things are tough for young people, and our programmes with libraries can offer them unique and powerful volunteering opportunities. And there's nothing more inspiring for a child than having a teenage volunteer from their own community spurring them on to read."

Tom Hotston, 14, from Warrington, was one of the volunteers. He said: "I would never have thought I would have got involved in something like this. Doing it has really increased my confidence. And as well as helping younger children, it's helped my reading too. I use the library all the time now and take out books."

Claire Daly, the librarian at Padgate Library, helped Tom into the scheme. She said: "Projects like these are great for libraries. Once a few have started, people encourage their friends to come and it spreads. Each young person finds it helpful, and will have something to put on their CVs."

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Hats off to The Reading Agency, who have done more than any official body to show just what libraries can do.
Super to know that the minister for civil society totally gets how essential they are.
Smashing that the chancellor's wife gets it too.
Shame that while 'more young people than ever are getting involved ... at their local libraries', those local libraries are disappearing at a rate never, ever, seen before.
Of 4,000-odd, 200 went last year and over 300 are under threat this year (see www.publiclibrariesnews.com).
Somebody should tell the cabinet and the chancellor about this horror!
Oh, er...

They are "fundamental", the Minister is so right. Libraries function properly and fulfil the needs of all if they are run properly, are more than an ad hoc book-exchange and are readily accessible - significant details that have escaped those with statutory responsibility for the service.

The Reading Agency and public libraries produce results - potentially saving the national economy billions of Pounds in dealing with an illiterate and dysfunctional generation.

Will Nick Hurd (who is clearly not a "luvvie") speak to Ed Vaizey and Maria Miller, to urge them to acknowledge the sense of his reasoning and halt the dismemberment of a service that is so much needed? Please, Mr Hurd, do not stop here - take it a few steps further.

Hmm - Nick Hurd refused to sign early day motion 647 proposing that school libraries be made compulsory. So, I'm taking this with a pinch of salt.

Hats off to The Reading Agency, who have done more than any official body to show just what libraries can do.
Super to know that the minister for civil society totally gets how essential they are.
Smashing that the chancellor's wife gets it too.
Shame that while 'more young people than ever are getting involved ... at their local libraries', those local libraries are disappearing at a rate never, ever, seen before.
Of 4,000-odd, 200 went last year and over 300 are under threat this year (see www.publiclibrariesnews.com).
Somebody should tell the cabinet and the chancellor about this horror!
Oh, er...

They are "fundamental", the Minister is so right. Libraries function properly and fulfil the needs of all if they are run properly, are more than an ad hoc book-exchange and are readily accessible - significant details that have escaped those with statutory responsibility for the service.

The Reading Agency and public libraries produce results - potentially saving the national economy billions of Pounds in dealing with an illiterate and dysfunctional generation.

Will Nick Hurd (who is clearly not a "luvvie") speak to Ed Vaizey and Maria Miller, to urge them to acknowledge the sense of his reasoning and halt the dismemberment of a service that is so much needed? Please, Mr Hurd, do not stop here - take it a few steps further.

Hmm - Nick Hurd refused to sign early day motion 647 proposing that school libraries be made compulsory. So, I'm taking this with a pinch of salt.