Children’s author Patrick Ness and Annie Mauger, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) have called for a "properly resourced and professionally staffed" library in every school in an open letter to MP Michael Gove.
The letter was sent to the secretary of state for education with the shortlists for this year’s CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway medals, which include nominations for authors including Meg Rosoff, Marcus Sedgwick, Oliver Jeffers and Ness himself. The move comes after Gove expressed concern over literacy standards in the UK, calling for children to read 50 books a year.
The letter reads: "While we applaud initiatives that encourage children to read more books, we’re concerned that cuts to public library services, cuts to Schools Library Services, and downgrading of some school libraries will result in fewer opportunities for children and young people to engage with outstanding books."
"Every child, school and teaching team should have access to a properly resourced and professionally staffed school library. But sadly, this is not always the case. Some schools are downgrading their library service, often by running the library by administrative staff rather than a librarian. Some schools have closed their library or restricted opening hours. Thirty-one local authorities in England no longer provide a Schools Library Service, which especially impacts on primary schools who are unable to employ a librarian. "
The letter concludes: "We hope that you will be a vocal and passionate champion for school and public library services. We need good libraries to tackle illiteracy and make sure that all children have the opportunity to read and engage with outstanding books."
Fourteen titles have been nominated across the two lists. Ferelith Hordon, children’s librarian for Wandsworth Library Service and chair of this year’s CILIP Carnegie judging panel, said: "These writers are brave, and some might say controversial in their choices of subject matter for young people—the Spanish Inquisition; gruesome investigations into the afterlife; and the violence at the heart of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe to name but three . . . But the quality of their writing ensures that the big questions are always treated in a way that is both thoughtful and completely absorbing."
Thousands of children will now begin to shadow the award through their schools, although it is not clear how many schools will take part in the shadowing scheme. Scholastic is supplying the book packs for the first time this year. The winners will be announced on 23rd June.
CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist
Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin (Doubleday)
The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean (OUP)
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Walker)
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff (Puffin)
White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace (Andersen)
CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist
Farther by Grahame Baker-Smith (Templar)
Me and You by Anthony Browne (Doubleday)
April Underhill, Tooth Fairy by Bob Graham (Walker)
Jim by Mini Grey, text by Hilaire Belloc (Cape)
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)
Big Bear Little Brother by Kristin Oftedal, text by Carl Norac (Macmillan)
Ernest by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan)
Cloud Tea Monkeys by Juan Wijngaard, text by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham (Walker)
- Coelho and Thomas nominated alongside Ness and Rundell in more inclusive Carnegie longlist
- Cuts in public and school libraries for East Renfrewshire
- Pullman and Gaiman back school library campaign
- Ness and Riddell vie for third Carnegie/Greenaway medals
- Walker dominates Carnegie and Greenaway shortlists