To coincide with National Libraries Day (Saturday 7 February 2015), the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) has announced details of a new library pilot scheme to make every child in Scotland a library member.
Fifteen local authorities across Scotland have signed up to support the ‘Every child a library member’ project, which will be funded by the SLIC-administered Public Library Improvement Fund, which is provided by the Scottish Government to support improvement and innovation in public library services across Scotland.
According to Amina Shah, Chief Executive of SLIC,“Libraries open up a world of learning and potential through access to information, books and other resources. They are a free and accessible environment for people of all ages to learn. Our research shows that libraries impact positively on learning outcomes for pupils. We also know that more children are using their local library through the Summer Reading Challenge. What we want to do is increase this engagement by reaching more children and making sure more children are library members.
“Through this project, we will aim to engage with families and communities to encourage more children to use and enjoy their local library and to enjoy reading for pleasure, helping to give them the best chance to learn in early years.”
Research shows that school library and public library services impact positively on the educational attainment of pupils and literacy levels among communities. The ‘Impact of School Libraries on Learning’ report found that schools with school libraries and librarians achieve higher exam scores leading to higher academic attainment; higher quality project work; successful curriculum and learning outcomes; positive attitudes towards learning and increased motivation and self-esteem among pupils.
In addition, statistics compiled by The Reading Agency show that increasing numbers of children in Scotland are engaging in their annual Summer Reading Challenge, which challenges children to read six books during their school summer holidays. Participation in the challenge has increased every year since 2011, with an overall increase of 18% from 2011 to 2014.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs stated that, “Libraries have a vital role to play in developing literacy, supporting attainment and encouraging the people of Scotland to develop a love of reading. This project, supported by the Scottish Government through the Public Library Improvement Fund, will encourage Scotland’s children and their parents to enjoy books from an early stage. This builds on the government’s existing commitment to encourage reading and improve literacy standards through initiatives including the PlayTalkRead campaign, Book Week Scotland and our newly announced Read Write Count initiative.”
The Pilot Project was welcomed by Marc Lambert, Chief Executive, of the Scottish Book Trust,“Scottish society is taking a huge step forward with the news that a number of local authority library services have enthusiastically agreed to pilot this initiative, which aims to ensure that every child is automatically enrolled in, and becomes an active member of their local library. This not only speaks to the early and decisive contribution libraries made to the character of Scottish society, but also provides for a strong future where children and their families can enjoy, for free, the benefits, advantages and pleasures that flow from the libraries in their community, and which are so critical to successful outcomes in later life.”
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