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Public Libraries, Literacy, and (Re)Building a Nation of Readers

Reading for pleasure is a time-honoured pastime dating back to the Georgian period, when books became widely available to the general public for the first time via industrial mass publication and the advent of lending libraries. With a focus on literacy as a tool for both moral and social improvement, England soon thereafter became a nation of readers, bolstered by the official establishment of public libraries in 1852.

Write Your Candidate about #VoteLibraries

The #VoteLibraries campaign asks library supporters across the UK to take the pledge to support candidates who will put libraries on the agenda in Westminster. If you believe that libraries matter in our communities, please take the next step and tell your candidates what you want to see in your constituency. We have made it easy to let your parliamentary candidates know how central their support for libraries is this election. Please take a moment to send them a message. It’s quick, free and easy to use Who Can I Vote For to send your message today. 

#VoteLibraries Campaign Launches

A new campaign, led by CILIP, the library and information association, is calling on politicians to put local communities at the heart of their election campaigns. The #VoteLibraries campaign enables members of the public to pledge their support for their local library services and put pressure on the candidates in their area to commit to sustainable, long term investment for local library services.

The campaign is supported by the recent joint report from CILIP and The Big Issue; Public Libraries: The case for support, which draws on research and evidence from the British Library, Carnegie UK Trust, CIPFA and others to highlights the positive impact of libraries on their users, communities, locality and local economy.

Great School Libraries Report Released

National Survey Results - School Librarians deliver their report card to Education Minister Nick Gibb

The joint CILIP/SLG/School Library Association campaign #GreatSchoolLibraries took a great leap forward last week with the launch of the first comprehensive research report into the state of school library provision across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (in parallel with and drawing on the fantastic progress already made in Scotland).

Key findings include:

  • 9 in 10 schools in England that participated in the research have access to a designated library space, falling to 67% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland, however;
  • Schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals are more than twice as likely not to have access to a designated library space;
  • Employment terms for librarians and library staff fall below national standards, with low pay and little investment in professional development and training.

Commenting on the publication of the research, Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP said, “We welcome this landmark report as the first comprehensive picture of the state of play in our school libraries. On the one hand, it is a testament to the Head Teachers, Teachers, Governors and Librarians that value and promote the importance of school libraries for learners and their school. On the other hand, the research paints a picture of inequality of access and opportunity and insecure employment that we cannot accept. The findings highlight the urgency of securing national School Library Strategies and investments."  

The Great School Libraries 'Phase 1' Report goes on to show that "[t]he evidence we have uncovered of significant inequality of provision in different Nations and between the independent and non-independent sectors points to a clear picture of inequality of opportunity – in turn, impacting on social mobility in disadvantaged communities. Our findings also highlight a disturbing trend of undervaluing school library staff as an integral part of the life of the school. We need to work with Heads, Governors and Leadership Teams to ensure that school librarians are employed under better terms and that their skills are properly recognised in terms of salary. We also need to ensure that schools invest in the CPD of their library staff to ensure that they continue to maintain their professional skills."


"Ahead stands a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build on our successes and address structural weaknesses in school library provision, ensuring that every child can benefit from a great school library, now and in the future."
- Great School Libraries 'Phase 1' Report (2019)

Join the campaign to show that Libraries Deliver in schools and communities by signing up now

The Great School Libraries Report launch event began with an ‘Insights Evening’ held at Hachette UK, which included contributions from Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell as well as Chris Riddell and a number of luminaries from the world of school libraries, books and reading. The main launch, the following day, received extensive press and media coverage, including:

The coverage provides a great platform for us to press for the next stage of political engagement, which is to secure support from the Department for Education for the development of a National School Libraries Strategy with investment and support from Ofsted.

Read the report and see the photographs at

Report: Public Libraries, The Case for Support

At a Parliamentary event at the House of Lords today, The Big Issue and Library Champion Bobby Seagull will join forces with CILIP, the UK library association, to make the case for long-term sustainable funding for libraries.

New £250 million Culture Investment Fund launched

Innovative cultural projects, libraries, museums and creative industries will benefit from £250m of new funding for the culture and creative sector, the Culture Secretary announced on October 12.

Bobby Seagull’s “Manifesto for Libraries”

The UK has an estimated 35,000 libraries and information services in 20 industry sectors. From health to public libraries, prisons to schools, libraries change lives for the better, every single day.

How Public Libraries Cultivate A Love of Reading

Literacy is one of the most important social challenges facing England today. According to a 2016 OECD report there are more than 9 million working-age adults in England with low literacy skills, numeracy skills, or both. Digital literacy is also an issue, with an estimated 12 per cent of the adult population never having used the internet. Indeed, with an estimated 35 per cent of jobs in the UK at risk of being replaced by automation in the next twenty years, a 2015  House of Lords report identified digital literacy as being as important an educational priority as traditional literacy and numeracy. Even though educational opportunities have expanded in recent years, low basic skills are more common among young people in England than in many other countries.

Webinar - Using the LibrariesDeliver Platform to Identify, Cultivate and Empower Supporters is designed to help local library leaders address the real challenges to library funding by organizing and focusing support from people across England and the UK. Overall, the Libraries Deliver campaign will provide a pathway for library leaders to connect with public about the work libraries do and the impact that librarians and staff have in their communities. 

Libraries - A Prescription for a Happier and Healthier Life

The County of Norfolk faces many health challenges. With a much older age profile than the national average, falls are a major reason for hospitalisation in the county. Over 16,000 people in are identified as having dementia. At the same time over two-thirds of the adult population are overweight and activity levels among children vary greatly as families struggle to include health and wellness as among their priorities.