Bad news from County Hall today – members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee have decided not to add the decision to close Hertfordshire’s Schools Library Service from March 31 this year to their work programme.
We’re saddened by this, because we believe it’s a poor end for a service that produced a nationally-respected body of work, gaining attention and respect for Hertfordshire all around the country, and for the staff past and present that have worked in it. We’re also sad for all the teachers and school librarians that will now be soldiering on without any professional support from librarians.
The Schools Library Service worked to help school staff promote reading for pleasure, teach information literacy and develop research skills with pupils. The alternative sources of support suggested by the council either do not offer the same depth of expertise or fall foul of exactly the same problem that seems to have felled the SLS – precious little flexibility in school budgets to fund such work.
This was an opportunity for councillors to make a real commitment to the importance of child literacy and to examine how Hertfordshire would rise to the challenge of shifting trends in education funding and also improve its future decision-making. Unfortunately, these are opportunities they have decided not to take.
So where does it leave us, and other people who support libraries in Hertfordshire? Disappointed, of course, but now more determined than ever to make National Libraries Day on February 4th a success as a positive sign of the support and affection that exists for libraries across our area.