Scottish schools are being encouraged to take advantage of a national funding programme aimed at improving school library services, which has opened today for a fourth round of applications.
The School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF), which is administered by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) on behalf of the Scottish Government, is open to all state-run schools in Scotland and is designed to support creative and innovative projects within the school library sector. SLIF aims to support activities which meet key priority areas, including information and digital learning, health and wellbeing, and the curriculum.
Education authorities have until Monday 30th September 2019 to place their bids for a share of the £450,000 fund.
Launched in September 2017, the Scottish Government pledged a total of £1 million to the fund. Since then, £550,000 has been invested in a range of innovative projects.
During the first round of funding in 2017, 15 projects throughout Scotland were awarded a combined total of £100,000. These included a programme in the Highlands which established sensory reading groups, allowing pupils to engage in all types of reading materials. An initiative in Clackmannanshire helped to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues by empowering children and young people to understand, manage and improve their health and wellbeing via self-help reading.
Last year’s successful applications included Edinburgh City Council’s ‘Escape, Connect, Relate’ project, which secured £18,100 worth of backing. The programme was set-up to tackle the issue of mental health misdiagnosis through bibliotherapy, a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support positive mental health. Funding allowed young people and staff to create a toolkit which highlights the resources available to support mental health, and guides librarians in how best to support pupils with bibliotherapy.
SLIC also accepts collaborative bids made by two or more schools. Recent joint projects include ‘Reading Rockets’ which aims to boost literacy and library use in the Western Isles. Activities such as synchronised reading events and storytelling will help to engage children, ultimately raising the profile of school libraries in the Western Isles.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said: “School libraries have a vital part to play in supporting literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and improving attainment across the Curriculum. Our investment of £1 million in the School Library Improvement Fund helps strengthen this role.
“Over the last two years we have seen schools receive funding for a wide range of exciting and innovative initiatives. These projects are helping make school libraries inspirational and engaging places for our children and young people.
“I would encourage all schools to consider applying this year and to use the investment to help realise the full potential of our school libraries.”
Pamela Tulloch, chief executive, SLIC said: “SLIF has had a huge impact so far, with funding going to several innovative projects that have enhanced the school library provision. The range of previously successful bids not only reflects the popularity of this funding initiative, but the sheer variety of activity happening in school libraries.
“It is encouraging to note an increasing focus is being placed on school library services, which now form part of inspections. The combined support of SLIF and the national school library strategy means we are making progress in improving the valuable role of libraries in education and learning.”