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Morris to chair commission on school libraries
27.01.10 | Benedicte Page
A commission to examine the future of school library provision in England is being launched by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the National Literacy Trust (NLT).
The commission will be chaired by former secretary of state for education and skills Estelle Morris and will deliver its findings in June.
With the number of pupils with school libraries provision dropping from 88% to 66% in the 10 years to 1997, "an evidence based examination of the school library in the education landscape is urgently required", said the MLA and NLT.
"A fresh and imaginative approach to redefining the role of the school library" is also needed, the bodies said.
The commission will focus on the definition and role of a modern school library, how it can be most effectively provided, and what a national improvement agenda for school libraries should be. It will ask schools, local authorities, education professionals and "any organisation or individual interested in the future of school libraries" to submit their views and ideas.
MLA chief executive Roy Clare said the school library service plays "a vital role" in children's access to reading and learning and that the commission was being launched "to answer current inconsistencies in the school library services and to offer effective examples and support for school libraries in the future."
NLT director Jonathan Douglas said: "A resource as important as this needs to be rediscovered in the context of a changing educational landscape."
Morris will be joined on the commission by Peter Wanless, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, Jean Gross, director of Every Child a Reader, and Catherine Blanshard, chief officer of libraries, arts and heritage for Leeds City Council.
Childrens author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons recently received more than 5,700 signatures to a petition to make school libraries statutory.