School libraries across Scotland will receive a £200,000 funding boost for projects supporting anti-racism and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion to recognise the issues that matter to our children and young people.

The School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF) is the Scottish Government-supported national funding programme which supports creative and innovative projects within the school library sector.

Available to all state-run nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools, the 2023-24 fund will once again put a priority focus on project applications which support anti-racism and racial equality as the scheme officially opens for applications today.

Innovative Projects

The 2023/24 fund will build on the anti-discrimination work undertaken in schools last year - including Ross High School in Tranent’s ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’ project, which developed a racial equality digital resource to recognise, represent and celebrate diversity in school libraries and communities across East Lothian.

Last year’s funding also supported the collaborative Academy programme in Clackmannanshire, which saw a series of progressive diversity and equality workshops launched with the Empathy Lab as part of the ‘Building Empathy Through Books’ initiative.

Investment in Libraries

Apportioning funding to initiatives which help school library services achieve the key aims of ‘Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools: A National Strategy for School Libraries in Scotland 2018-2023’ - the strategic document for the development of school libraries, the announcement of this year’s fund brings the total investment from the Scottish Government to £1.7m over the lifetime of the School Library Strategy strategy.

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “School libraries play a vital role in the learning experiences of children and young people across the country. They are also places where positive values can be celebrated and developed, which is why I am delighted to continue our support for them through this fund.

“I am determined that inclusion, diversity and representation will be at the heart of our education system. This fund’s focus on developing anti-racism resources will help ensure that children and young people understand the harmful consequences of racism and discrimination, and encourage them to actively challenge it wherever it occurs.”

Improving and Expanding Services

Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive of the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) which administers the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, added: “School libraries play a central role in helping children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for learning, life and work.

“They ensure every young person has the chance to fulfil their full potential, so it’s great to see this level of Scottish Government funding pledged to support the aims of ‘Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools’ once again.

“From physical and digital resources to collaborative workshops and initiatives, SLIF grants can help school libraries improve and expand the services they offer for their pupils, staff and the community around them. 

“As we continue to put a focus on projects advocating for anti-racism and anti-discrimination, we would encourage every nursery, primary and secondary school to consider how they can help lead the way in developing our services and apply for funding today.”

Schools can apply via individual application or collaborative application with SLIC accepting up to two individual applications per local authority and an unlimited number of collaborative applications to ensure equal opportunities across Scotland.

The School Library Improvement Fund 2023-24 is now open to applications and will close at 12pm on Wednesday 20 September 2023.