16.07.10 | Caroline Horn
The Campaign for the Book has called for a moratorium on all school library closures following the news that some 12 school libraries have been closed or severely downgraded within the past fortnight.
Author Alan Gibbons, who heads up the campaign, has written to education secretary Michael Gove asking him to prevent further school library closures until the findings of a School Library Commission are reported in the autumn.
Gibbons said: “I am disturbed by the level of cuts going through at the moment, even before the full-scale spending cuts are announced in October.”
Tricia Adams, director of the School Libraries Association, said: “Schools are definitely responding to the forthcoming cuts. It is unfortunate that some head teachers view the library as a drain on resources rather than a support.”
Gibbons added: “All the recent closures have been secondary school libraries, which is precisely when young people need the support of qualified librarians the most. It is catastrophic that they won’t have that.” Some schools will replace qualified librarians with non-qualified staff, others are breaking up their school library to house it in individual classrooms.
Seven of the school library closures have taken place in South Wales. Gibbons said: “When you have a cluster of schools taking the same action, I am in no doubt that the head teachers have got together and decided to get rid of their libraries. Once you lose the library, the whole culture of reading in the school collapses.”