Children’s laureate Chris Riddell, backed by all eight former children’s laureates including Quentin Blake and Julia Donaldson, has made a powerful and passionate call for the Department of Education to end the “disadvantageous school library lottery” that has seen hundreds of school libraries lose a dedicated librarian over the last decade.
In an open letter to Justine Greening, the secretary of state for education, Riddell writes that he is “deeply concerned” the work school libraries and librarians do in promoting reading for pleasure “is not fully appreciated and, worse, is being undermined through lack of economic and intellectual investment”.
He pointed to the recent closure of two major school library services in Dorset and Berkshire, and to the year-on-year loss of members at the School Library Association (SLA) as numbers shrink through lack of funding. The SLA estimates that over the last decade it has lost around 1,000 members, as “more and more schools are taking the economic route and saying they haven’t got the money and they’ve got to get rid of their librarian”, said the organisation’s director, Tricia Adams.
Riddell, supported by the eight former children’s laureates – Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne, Donaldson and Malorie Blackman – called on the Department of Education to act on the request from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries to gather official statistics on school library provision so the “extent of this problem can be understood”.