School library services face closure

School library services face closure

School library services (SLS) in Birmingham and Sutton are to close or substantially reduce the service they offer to schools, while in Greenwich the service suspended on a temporary basis in 2009 will not now be resumed.
 
The news follows recent closures of services in Kent, Cambridgeshire and Southwark. Birmingham SLS centre will close in April, leaving some 500 schools without access to an SLS, although some form of provision may remain. Sutton, which has nearly 40 schools, will close its SLS in March.

Many more services are under threat. Reduced support from local authorities in 2011 means that school library services will face increased overhead costs just as their customers, local schools, cut their budgets to balance their books. School library services have traditionally provided a specialist book loan scheme into schools to support teaching of the curriculum. Schools subscribe to this service, which can also include training and advice on how to organise and manage library and teaching resources in schools and promote a love of reading.
 
Gillian Harris, chair of ASCEL (Association of Senior Children’s and Educational Librarians) and head of Tower Hamlets SLS, said: “As schools library services close down, this valuable expertise is being lost. Already children’s specialisms in the public library are disappearing.
 
“Together with the loss of schools library services, teachers will have nowhere to go for advice and help at a time when National Curriculum changes will create even more demand for curriculum support.”
 
At Peters Bookselling Services, which supplies school library services, m.d. Ray Dyer said: “Many schools don’t have anyone who specialises in books and many primary schools don’t have a librarian, so SLSs provide vital advocacy for reading and literacy. If they close, there is no one to fill that void.”