Donaldson criticises school library cuts in Scotland

Donaldson criticises school library cuts in Scotland

Children's author Julia Donaldson has protested against a Scottish council’s decision to axe school libraries.

The Scotsman has reported that Donaldson wrote to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon complaining about Argyll and Bute Council’s decision to make cuts that led to all school librarians in the area losing their jobs.

In the letter, Donaldson wrote: “I am worried that the situation in Argyll and Bute might set a precedent for the rest of Scotland, and I would urge you to persuade the councillors to reverse their decision. Obviously you and not I are the policy maker, but I did have the idea that provision of a secondary school librarian could be a statutory requirement.”

She added: “With so many public libraries disappearing or being run by volunteers, it is surely vital that children have access to books and to professional advice. The cost-cutting argument against this is very short-sighted, since it is widely known that illiteracy leads to increased unemployment and crime, putting a strain on other budgets.”

The Scotsman contacted a spokesperson from Argyll and Bute Council, who said it had been forced to make cuts of £10m in the 2016-17 financial year.

The council spokesperson said pupils “will still have access” to staffed libraries, and added: “Local arrangements will be made within schools to ensure pupils are supported to make use of school libraries or through the council’s public library services.”

In the UK, there is no legal requirement for schools to provide a library facility and Donaldson bemoaned closures across the UK last year.

She said it was “awful” that so many librarians were losing their jobs at a time when the country is worried about poor literacy levels.