North Yorks school library service to close

North Yorks school library service to close

North Yorkshire County Council is to close its school library service because not enough schools have subscribed.

Schools in the area been given a year’s notice of the closure.

The North Yorkshire school library service aims “to open up a whole new world of opportunities for children to become independent learners with a lifelong appreciation of books and to instil a genuine love of learning”. It offers services including specialist advice and training to school librarians, loans of project collections, a selection of books, a bookshop which offers schools books at a 20% discount, and book talks and author visits. Schools can purchase packages, or individual services.

Author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons said: “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Schools will not have the breadth of books [without this service]. Once the service has gone there will be a narrowing of books and author visits.I think it will be a disaster.”

A spokesman for the council said: “North Yorkshire County Council's school library service has been a fully traded service for a number of years - ie it relies on schools buying into the service.  The local authority has kept the school library service operational in this way for longer than in other authorities.

“However, with only one-third of schools subscribing to the service and an on-going downward trend it was agreed this month by the Schools Forum – which represents the county’s schools and advises on the distribution of funding within their local authority  - that the service was not sustainable on a “fully traded” basis.

“The service will continue trading as normal until March 2015.”

The service will hold a conference in June titled "Making the most of your school librarian".

Last week North Yorkshire County Council announced it was considering passing 23 of its 35 libraries to volunteers as part of proposals to try and find savings of £168m in the next five years, against a starting budget of £500m.

Gibbons also said the loss of the school library service in North Yorkshire was another blow to reading for pleasure. “I think we undermine our library service at our peril,” he said. “Public libraries are closing and professional staff being lost, school library services are closing. No area of reading for pleasure is not being undermined.”

School library services have closed across the country in recent years, including in Hertfordshire, Kent, Cambridgeshire and Southwark.