Scotland moots library membership from birth

Scotland moots library membership from birth

Children in Scotland could be issued with library cards from birth under a new scheme discussed in a parliamentary debate, according to the Sunday Times.

During a debate on the importance of libraries, culture minister Fiona Hyslop said 30 local authorities have already voiced their support for the scheme.

“The development of the pilots is still at an early stage but the intention is to give children a completed library card at various stages from birth to primary school,” she said. “The pilots will run in the next financial year and will encourage Scotland’s children and their parents to enjoy books from an early stage.”

She also said Scotland has closed 3.6% of its libraries between 2008 and 2013, which is fewer than England (7.9%), Wales (11%) and Northern Ireland (11.5%).

The news comes after the UK government announced plans to promote public library membership in primary schools across the country. Earlier this month, it revealed its “Reading: The Next Steps” action plan that urges all primary schools to arrange library membership for year three pupils (aged 7-8).

School reform minister Nick Gibb said: “Nothing is more important than ensuring every child can read well. Poor reading can hold people back throughout their adult lives, preventing them from achieving their full potential. The measures outlined today are designed to build on the progress made so far and help primary schools in the vital role they play in driving up literacy standards across England.”

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), council spending on libraries in England dropped from £783m in 2012/13 to £757.3m in 2013/14, a fall of 3.3%. Opening hours and staff numbers also fell last year. School libraries are also suffering under government cuts, as councils look to save money by scrapping school library services.