A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Open letter from Scotland’s writers to protect literature budget

Dear Editor,

The Scottish Government is preparing a budget which will have major consequences for the future health of the nation. All the signs suggest that culture in general could face devastating cuts. We are calling for the government to increase funding for the arts and literature, for the good of everyone in Scotland.

As writers who have built our careers while living here, or who have retained a close connection with the country even though we live elsewhere, we have benefited from Scotland’s long-standing commitment to making culture and the arts accessible for all – both in building readership for our work, but also in supporting the creation of our books. Some of us have received grants to help us write our books, while others have benefited from training and mentoring schemes for emerging writers. Our entrepreneurial publishers and our much-loved libraries have received vital support to publish and distribute books as widely as possible, while Scotland’s internationally-respected book festivals have achieved great things with small amounts of funding and have brought our work to worldwide attention.

Supporting literature is not a drain on the country’s resources: books make an enormous contribution to the country, financially and reputationally. Our writers tour the world, talking about Scotland and its culture at book festivals from Guadalajara to Jaipur and from Reykjavik to Auckland. Our books are an advertisement for Scotland, attracting tourists to visit the landmarks they’ve read about, and foreign students to come on summer schools here – not to mention the visitors who come especially for our festivals.

Harry Potter; The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; The Gruffalo – these are just some of the many international success stories that have been helped by Scotland’s literary support system. At the same time, key works of non-fiction such as Tom Devine’s The Scottish Nation and poetry from authors including Liz Lochhead and Jackie Kay have helped us better understand Scotland and its place in the world today. With more public support, writers can encourage diversity, inclusion and literacy, not to mention boosting Scotland’s economy.

Of course there are difficult budget decisions to make in times of austerity, but the cost of supporting literature only amounts to a tiny fraction of the overall money the government will spend. When it comes to the arts and literature, for a modest investment from the government our work generates enormous financial and cultural dividends.

Will future generations look back on the early 21st century and lament the absence of the next Muriel Spark, the next Robert Louis Stevenson, the next Edwin Morgan? We can’t be certain. But without support from the government, Scotland will surely damage one of its prize assets: its world-renowned literary heritage. What an irony we could be facing: a country which trumpets its First Minister’s Reading Challenge on the one hand, but which cuts funding to new writers on the other.

Yours,

Leila Aboulela

Lin Anderson

Kate Atkinson

Sian Bevan

Alan Bissett

Chris Brookmyre

John Burnside

Ron Butlin

Aonghas Padraig Caimbeul/Angus Peter Campbell

Karen Campbell

Nora Chassler

Regi Claire

Jo Clifford

Jenny Colgan

Stewart Conn

Stuart Cosgrove

Linda Cracknell

Jim Crumley

Christine De Luca

Meaghan Delahunt

Professor Sir Tom Devine

Imtiaz Dharker

Anne Donovan

Ever Dundas

Michel  Faber

Jenni Fagan

James Fergusson

Laura Fernandes

Charlie Fletcher

Aminatta Forna

Ronald Frame

Gavin Francis

Viv French

Janice Galloway

Magi Gibson

Harry Giles

Debi Gliori

Alasdair Gray

Alex Gray

Keith Gray

Andrew Greig

Kirsty Gunn

Robin Harper

Bill Herbert

Laura Hird

Richard Holloway

Kerry Hudson

Sandra Ireland

Kathleen Jamie

Jamie Jauncey

Tiffany Jenkins

Brian Johnstone

Doug Johnstone

Pat Kane

Kapka Kassabova

Jackie Kay

AL Kennedy

David Kinloch

Elizabeth Laird

Sue Lawrence

William Letford

Jenny Lindsay

Liz Lochhead

Kirsty Logan

Colin MacIntyre

Ken MacLeod

Aonghas MacNeacail

Kevin MacNeil

Iain Macpherson

Graeme Macrae Burnet

Sara Maitland

Willie Maley

Allan Massie

Peter May

Alexander McCall Smith

Helen McClory

Rachel McCrum

Val McDermid

Lesley McDowell

Denise Mina

Aidan Moffat

Donald S Murray

Liz Niven

Maggie O’Farrell

Andrew O’Hagan

Don Paterson

Mary Paulson-Ellis

Tom Pow

Chitra Ramaswamy

Ian Rankin

Alan Riach

Lucy Ribchester

James Robertson

David Robinson

Dilys Rose

Peter Ross

James Runcie

Helen Sedgwick

Sara Sheridan

John Gordon Sinclair

Ali Smith

Donald Smith

Alan Spence

Gerda Stevenson

Linda Strachan

Charlie Stross

William Sutcliffe

Malachy Tallack

Alan Taylor

Suria Tei

Alice Thompson

Ryan Van Winkle

Irvine Welsh

Louise Welsh

JL Williams

Kevin Williamson

James Yorkston

Davy Zyw

The letter has been featured in the following publications and has been sent to the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretaries for their views.

The Times

Guardian

The Herald

The Bookseller

December 5, 2017

ICYMI: Watch the #ThisIsIt2017 videos

If you didn’t make it to the Literary Cabaret 2017 on 23 November, or to watch the speakers again, here are the videos.

Please share your comments with us @LitScotland using #ThisIsIt2017.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scotland’s Culture Secretary opens the show.

“Words matter, writers matter…Scotland is a country of the word. You are guardians and nurturers of that word. You are creators of that word. Thank you.”

 

Francis Bickmore, Publishing Director of Canongate, on publishing:

“Novels are literally a crash-course in empathy…Books can not only make us care but they can also give us hope.”

 

Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival on book festivals:

 

Pamela Tulloch, CEO of Scottish Library and Information Council on public and school libraries:

 

Award-winning poet William Letford on writers:

 

Best-selling author Louise Welsh on international perspective:

December 4, 2017

Protect the culture budget – write to your MSP

We’re calling on our members – and Scotland’s literature and languages community – to take action and write to Finance Cabinet Secretary Derek Mackay MSP and their local MSP to urge them to protect the culture budget.

We must ensure MSPs understand that we want to live in a literary nation and it is their job to invest in and support the development of that literary nation.

Use the info we’ve supplied in this template letter – but also draw on your own experience and the difference festivals, books, libraries, literature programmes have made to your life, your family and your community.

This is important. It will only take 10 minutes. Please post or email your letter by Friday 1 December.

 

Contact details

Derek Mackay MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution
T4.07
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP

Email: CabSecFC@gov.scot

Find your local MSP here: http://www.parliament.scot/msps.aspx

 

Below is our letter posted to Mr Mackay, from LAS Chair Peggy Hughes.

—-

Dear Derek,

Please protect Scotland’s culture budget

My name is Peggy Hughes, I am Chair of Literature Alliance Scotland, which represents the principal literature and languages organisations in Scotland, and I write to ask you to ensure continued financial support for literature programmes in Scotland in the forthcoming budget.

While I appreciate you face difficult decisions when balancing the budget, the argument for investment in culture is strong. Scotland’s arts and culture sector is one of the most efficient and dynamic in our nation:

At £293 million, total spending on culture, tourism and external affairs represented less than 1% of the 2016-17 Scottish budget. Yet arts and creative industries contribute 3% of the gross value added to the national budget.

In 2015/16 Creative Scotland’s Regular Funded Organisations attracted £109million of extra investment from sources other than public funds and created 1.62 million public participation opportunities.

In 2015, 92% of adults in Scotland participated in a cultural activity and Scotland’s Creative Industries contributed £4.6billion GVA to the Scottish economy, supporting 73,600 jobs.

Scottish literature puts us on the international map and attracts business through publishing, bookselling and cultural tourism. Scotland has more than 100 active publishing houses, producing over 3000 new books a year, employing +1600 people, and generating an annual turnover of c£150 million. The country’s 45 plus book festivals include the world’s largest, and book festivals attract millions to Scotland’s local economies. A third of visitors to Scotland cite history and culture as a key motivation to visit, especially overseas and long-haul visitors.

Given the huge added value the cultural sector brings to Scotland’s economy, society and business community, it is clear that public investment in culture offers outstanding value for money.

Literature is a success story for Scotland and we appeal to the Scottish Government to invest in Scotland’s literature for the future.

Cuts to the public funding that supports the literary infrastructure in Scotland – the bedrock of a cultural offer recognised worldwide for its quality – will undoubtedly lead to the disappearance of many irreplaceable arts organisations and literary infrastructure which support our readers, storytellers, writers, and publishers.

Reading is Scotland’s favourite cultural activity, which brings with it important health benefits. In fact, a 2013 study conducted by the Scottish Government shows clear and significant links between cultural participation and improved health and wellbeing.

Right now, we are punching above our weight across all the creative sectors. Ours is a proud, confident, pioneering nation with a long reach. On behalf of our members, our communities and the young people of the future, we implore you: let’s not fall behind. Please protect the arts and culture.

Yours sincerely,

Peggy Hughes
Chair of LAS

 

Literature Alliance Scotland Membership at November 2017

Members

  • Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS)
  • Association of Scottish Literary Agents (ASLA)
  • Bookdonors CIC
  • CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland)
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • The Gaelic Books Council
  • Moniack Mhor
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust
  • Playwrights’ Studio Scotland
  • Publishing Scotland
  • The Saltire Society
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Language Dictionaries
  • Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC)
  • SLAM (Scottish Literary and Arts Magazines)
  • Scottish Society of Playwrights
  • Scottish PEN
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Forum
  • Scottish Writers Centre
  • Society of Authors in Scotland
  • Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Wigtown Festival Company
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (Scottish Region)

 

Network Associates

  • Ayton Publishing
  • Emergents CIC
  • Florida State Universities Library
  • Indie Authors World
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
  • Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication @ Stirling University
  • The Poetry Association of Scotland.
November 30, 2017

Open Letter: We hope Government will continue to recognise the value of public funding of the arts

The Editor, The Herald

The cultural sector in Scotland awaits the UK Government’s budget announcement on Wednesday this week with trepidation: a perfect storm approaches.  Stark warnings have been issued to prepare for significant financial challenges. But further cuts to the public funding that supports the arts and its infrastructure in Scotland, the bedrock of a cultural offer recognised worldwide for its quality, will undoubtedly lead to the disappearance of many irreplaceable arts organisations.

The sector in Scotland has already weathered cuts of more than a third in real terms since 2010, including a year-on-year collapse of Lottery funding, which until now has been used to shore up Creative Scotland’s core funding for theatres, galleries, venues, literature, and more.  Creative Scotland would need an increase of 48% or £22m on the 2016 budget simply to match the real-term level of 2010.  Arts Council England, by contrast, this year announced £170m in new investment to support 180 additional National Portfolio Organisations.

Core funding reductions are compounded by threats from other areas:  if Barclay Review recommendations are implemented, millions would be wiped from the budgets of arts venues across Scotland.  Culture is not a protected spend, so further cuts to Local Authority budgets will wipe out grass roots community arts activities.

We welcome the positive public statements made by the Scottish Government in acknowledging the central role culture plays across our society, and we applaud the major new investments in film and the Edinburgh Festivals, The Burrell Collection and The V&A in Dundee. Clearly, the will to support arts and culture exists at the highest level.

However, big flagship investments cannot substitute for the basic funding that our everyday, small-to-medium sized cultural groups need to exist. If these disappear, which many will if predictions about cuts to Regular Funding Organisations (RFOs) are correct, how will we nurture and sustain the highly skilled but low-paid artists who deliver arts, culture and creative experiences to audiences across every community in Scotland?

We are clear that we have now arrived at a tipping point where even a small cut to Creative Scotland’s Grant-In-Aid, alongside the reduction in Lottery funds and local authority cuts, will devastate Scotland’s arts and culture infrastructure.  Damage to this infrastructure, developed with the aid of public investment over the last fifty years, will be irreversible. This cannot be overstated.

Conversely, a very small increase in funding would allow the core infrastructure of arts and culture in Scotland to survive and to thrive.

The argument for investment is strong. The arts and culture sector is one of the most efficient and dynamic in the country. In 2015/16 RFOs attracted £109m of extra investment from sources other than public funds and created 1.62 million public participation opportunities. In 2015, 92% of adults in Scotland participated in a cultural activity and Scotland’s Creative industries contribute £4.6bn GVA to the Scottish economy, supporting 73,600 jobs. These outcomes draw from, and depend on, skills identified and developed by the arts.

We are proud to live in a country that values arts and culture for its own sake as well as for its wider societal impact on health, education, justice and communities.  Government funding is vital to this ecosystem. We write to ensure the potential impact of further cuts is fully understood, and we ask the Scottish Government to demonstrate that understanding in the Draft Budget to come.

Yours faithfully,

Seonaid Daly, Director, Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Marc Lambert, Literature Alliance Scotland

Jan-Bert van den Berg, Director, Artlink Edinburgh & Lothians

Fiona Logue, Director, Craft Scotland

Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Unison

Claire Stewart, Director, Creative Edinburgh

David Francis, Director, Traditional Music Forum

Jude Henderson, Director, Federation of Scottish Theatre

David Watt, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Scotland

Janie Nicoll, former President, Scottish Artist Union

Sara Graham, CC Skills, Nations Director

Robert Livingston, Director, Regional Screen Scotland

Diana A Sykes, Director, Fife Contemporary

The letter appeared in The Herald on Tues 21 November 2017 here, and was also covered by Phil Miller online here.

 

 

November 21, 2017

This is it! Scotland’s literary talent in the spotlight at cabaret event

Author Louise Welsh, poet William Letford (l) and Francis Bickmore of Canongate Books.

Best-selling author Louise Welsh and award-winning poet William Letford are set to headline an inaugural literary cabaret taking place this month, which shines a light on the nation’s literary scene in 2017.

The fast-paced, 90-minute show – called This Is It! –  will highlight the year’s literary happenings across five strands – publishing, book festivals, school and public libraries, writers, and the international perspective.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs will open this first public event from Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS) – the nation’s largest network of literature and languages organisations – on Wednesday 23 November from 7pm at Central Hall, Edinburgh.

Speakers include, respectively, Canongate Books’ Publishing Director Francis Bickmore, Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, and Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive of Scottish Libraries Information Council (SLIC).

Poet William Letford, who hails from Stirling, will cover writer development and perform a reading of his poem This Is It from which the event takes its name.

Closing the show will be Glasgow-based author, Louise Welsh, who will speak about Scotland’s books and literature on the international stage as well as the importance of literary exchange between nations.

In addition, attendees will be able to browse and buy books from Scotland’s writers and publishers courtesy of Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh while librarians from South Lanarkshire’s digital library programme ‘ACTIVEe’ will be on hand to demonstrate 3D printers which are now available in all of Scotland’s public libraries.

Peggy Hughes, Chair of LAS said:

“With over 40 book festivals a year, ambitious new publishing houses such as 404ink emerging, stalwarts such as Birlinn celebrating 25 years, another Man Booker shortlisting for Ali Smith, Muriel Spark’s centenary on the horizon, not to mention the many, many Scottish books and authors that are going into the world every day and taking our stories and voices with them, it seemed high time that we take a moment to celebrate the wealth of our literature sector and shout about its cultural and social value.”

“At a time when Scotland’s Culture Strategy is being developed, it’s vital that we champion our sector and all the talented people working within and for it. Our literary cabaret is a chance for everyone with an interest in Scotland’s literature and book community to gather together and say, ‘This is it, this is a snapshot of what’s been happening this year’. It’s about carving out a space to celebrate the wonderful success, highlight the exciting potential and address the challenges. That’s why we’re so delighted that Fiona Hyslop is officially opening the event and giving this rich and vibrant sector the recognition it deserves.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Scotland’s distinguished literary culture is a notable part of our national identity. It also attracts visitors to Scotland and raises our cultural profile around the world.

“I am pleased that the Literature Alliance Scotland is extending its reach beyond its membership of key individuals and agencies which promote writers and publishers to engage with the public.

“We are doing all we can to support the literary sector to ensure this rich legacy is maintained and strengthened in future years. We do this through for example our support for Creative Scotland, literacy, libraries, festivals, Book Week Scotland, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and the post of Makar.”

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing, Creative Scotland, said:

“We have a unique, distinctive and rich cultural asset in literature that not only makes an enormous impact to people’s lives in Scotland but also enhances our reputation internationally.  From poets to storytellers, screenwriters and playwrights the quantity and quality of writing being published here is truly inspiring. This is It! and Literature Alliance Scotland creates an important opportunity to bring together authors, publishers, libraries, festivals and literary organisations, and champion the work being done to make literature more visible to a greater number of people. We look forward to continuing this work with Scottish Government, partner agencies and individuals to create the best conditions to support a thriving literature and publishing sector in Scotland and internationally.”

This Is It! is hosted by Siân Bevan and tickets are £7 /£6 – https://this-is-it-literary-cabaret-2017.eventbrite.com/

-Ends-

Issued by JK Consultancy on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland. For further information, please contact LAS Communications Officer Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 / jenny@jkconsultancy.com

Notes to Editor

Literature Alliance Scotland, a membership organisation, represents the principal literature and languages organisations in Scotland, and is committed to advancing their interests at home and abroad. We exist to provide a strong, trusted collective voice on their behalf. Formed in Spring 2015, LAS is a successor to the Literature Forum for Scotland. For further information visit www.literaturealliancescotland.co.uk or follow us on Twitter: @LitScotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland, please visit www.creativescotland.com Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland

November 6, 2017
This is it! Scotland’s literary talent in the spotlight at cabaret event

CPG on Culture: A Culture Strategy for Scotland

The Cross-Party Group on Culture discussed A Culture Strategy for Scotland at its meeting on Tuesday 5 September 2017. Watch the video of the debate below.

Speakers included:

  • Leonie Bell, Head of Cultural Engagement and Culture Strategy, Scottish Government
  • Allison Gardener, Programme Director, Glasgow Film
  • Lauren Ross, National Youth Arts Advisor, Young Scot
  • Heather Stuart, Chief Executive, Fife Cultural Trust

CPG on Culture, September 2017 from Creative Scotland on Vimeo.

If the video is not showing above, please view the video here.

October 18, 2017

Notes on Visions of the Future: Libraries @ Edinburgh International Book Festival

Sunday 27 August 2017, 7.30-9pm, Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Featuring: Julia Donaldson, Pete White, Dr Jenny Peachey, chair: David Chipakupaku

Format: short presentation by each guest, followed by group discussion, then audience questions.

Julia Donaldson, children’s author and Children’s Laureate 2011-2013

Read out two examples of letters from parents who use the libraries in different ways, including the difficulties in accessing ‘hubs’ – rather than smaller local libraries – for some parents. She had heard comments that some librarians didn’t dare speak out: “librarians are not allowed to say, ‘our libraries are doing well'”. Emphasised that although understandable some cuts need to be made in times of financial difficulty, it would be disastrous if buildings were sold and we couldn’t get them back.

Jenny Peachey, Senior Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

Shared stats from Carnegie Trust report ‘Shining a Light: The future of public libraries across the UK and Ireland.’ Showed that although library membership is doing well, frequency of use is down (from 2011-2016), and that there’s a value action gap (i.e.libraries are seen as crucial but are not necessarily being used). Issue of two very different user groups, who need two different messages. There’s an appetite for change amongst the public, including increased council services available in libraries, more events and more cafes). Increased range of books was not seen as a priority for many people. Potential improvements: digital offer, a more tailored offer, which recognises that it’s not a universal/broad service? Also: Create a workplace culture of innovation which empowers library staff and share learning across the jurisdictions, which all have different strengths and weaknesses.

Pete White, Chief Executive of Positive Prison

Pete talked about his experience in the prison system, including being allocated to work in the library during his sentence. Shared key stats including: 80% of prisoners are from the top 5% more impoverished areas. Two thirds of prisoners have a reading age of less than 11, two thirds have mental health issues and two thirds have issues with addiction. Each year 250,000 people have a court report written about them. The prison population remains about steady with approx 19,000 in and out each year. He explained how libraries are the “opportunity to take something forward”, emphasising that they are linked to communication as a whole. The average middle-class household will use around 32,000 words per day, whereas a family with two children and one parent with an addiction is likely to use around 600. “That’s a lot of missing words by the time they grow up”. He ended with “libraries are vital, simple as.”

Further discussion points and key quotations

– importance of recognising that it’s not patronising to teach reading or stories to adults

– discussion of important of libraries to people once released from prison – JP pointed out we could connect the dots.

– JP: Explained that something is being lost in communication, for example many people surveyed said they wanted to be able to reserve books online, which they already can. Also: think about the ‘why’ of libraries when spreading the message, and recognise it’s not a universal message.

– PW: Libraries could “step sideways from tradition” and become more fearless, with more involvement from young people. Can be intimidating to some people.

– JD: Libraries as a physical place v. important – vital role as a community centre.

– JP: “Libraries are the last free, safe, civic space we have.”

– Discussion of the social return on investment, e.g. training volunteers, which means they’re seen as people with the ability to contribute. Importance of quantifying long-term value and preventative spend, e.g. libraries save the NHS millions each year.

– Questions raised about who do we expect to invest in libraries? (US model of philanthropy mentioned). How can they generate money? How to change the social mindset about libraries?

Describe your dream library!

DC: Birmingham! But with all local services still intact.

JD: I love the variety, and how each one is so different.

JP: A library which is immediately welcoming and full of people

PW: Wee free libraries, available to all.

Points from audience discussion

  • Pamela Tulloch (CEO of Scottish Library and Information Council) pointed out that the situation in Scotland is not as dire as often portrayed: new libraries are opening around the country, and it’s important to celebrate the positives.
  • importance of communicating with your local library about what you want
  • use your library, and encourage others, to help the stats.
  • celebrate the diversity of library users, without judgment
  • make sure communicate the contemporary offer to those who don’t value their libraries.

Notes courtesy of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

September 6, 2017

Love your Libraries? #MakeItCount

The City of Literature Trust is running a library campaign calling library lovers and users all over Edinburgh to get a card, sign up a friend, make the most of what’s on offer, and get vocal about how great libraries are.

On Monday 26 June 2017, the City of Literature Trust’s ‘Make It Count’ Library campaign will kick-off – spanning a four week period that will delve deep into the heart of Edinburgh’s libraries by featuring stories, images and conversations between librarians and writers – ending with the Trust’s pledge to take the words and support received to Edinburgh’s Councillors at the City Chambers.

Inspired by the support and enthusiasm generated by the Libraries Matter campaign run by CILIP in Scotland, the Trust was keen to carry this sentiment forward; to harness the overwhelming support and passion for Edinburgh’s local libraries and channel this into creating a tangible and noticeable drive in numbers across library services.

Edinburgh-based author Ron Butlin told the Trust:

“I find libraries even more important than ever. Being able to browse real shelves rather than merely relying on Google is a much more fruitful way of doing research, and library staff are just about the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. Libraries are the enlightened custodians of our culture…we are so very lucky to have public libraries to keep us in touch with the closest we can come to reasonable truth. Long live libraries!”

So, what are we asking library lovers to do? Just three simple things:

Get a Card – sign-up to their local library and tag #MakeItCount

Get a Book – borrow a book, ebook, CD, or DVD and share it

Get a Friend – tell friends, family and colleagues about the fantastic offers on in local libraries

As this campaign is all about the collective effort of Edinburgh’s library lovers and users, the Trust is also reaching out to organisations in the city – literary or otherwise – to get them involved by asking them to spread the message around colleagues and friends, share images online featuring library cards and library books using #MakeItCount and #LibrariesMatter, as well as starting conversations in day-to-day life about visiting and using libraries.

The campaign will run over a period of four weeks, from the 26 Jun until the 24 July, with the first three weeks being specifically targeted towards generating online engagement and conversation via social media and the campaign page on the Trust’s website: cityofliterature.com/makeitcount, when it goes live. The Trust will work with librarians, library advisors, and writers to promote the importance of Edinburgh’s libraries as not only reading spaces, but places to work, learn, and socialise.

Ali Bowden, Director of the City of Literature Trust, says: “Libraries are the beating heart of our City of Literature. They are a haven for words that inspire and entertain; places of possibility and discovery that foster a love of literature, strengthening the very foundations of our society. We know that in order to keep them open, funded, and operating as the fantastic spaces that they already are, we need to be seen to be using them.”

-ends-

NOTES TO EDITORS

City of Literature Trust
The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is the development agency for Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature. It works to bring literature to the streets of Edinburgh, involving people in the city’s literary life, bringing organisations to work together collaboratively for greater impact, and sharing Edinburgh’s literary story with the world.

cityofliterature.com
@EdinCityofLit

UNESCO City of Literature Designation
In 2004 Edinburgh was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a permanent title celebrating Edinburgh’s status as a literary capital and pioneer in the UNESCO creative cities network, which now has 116 member cities in seven creative artforms. The concept of a City of Literature was devised in Edinburgh by the Trust’s founding members.

CILIP in Scotland
CILIPS is the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. Founded in 1908 (formerly Scottish Library Association), the organisation funds its own office in Glasgow, is registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and  is responsible for all policy, financial and operational matters relating to its internal affairs and for those professional matters solely affecting the operation, development and promotion of library and information services in Scotland.

Libraries Matter
Run by CILIPS in the lead up to the local government elections, the Libraries Matter campaign sought to influence candidates standing in local government elections by calling on those working in libraries to get involved in advocating the benefits they deliver. They asked candidates to pledge that, if elected, they would:

  1. Support public libraries and the vital contribution they make to community cohesion, social and economic wellbeing, digital skills and literacy.
  2. Support professionally staffed school libraries and recognise their value to education and the raising attainment agenda.

For further information please contact:

Rebecca Raeburn, Communications Assistant, City of Literature Trust

rebecca@cityofliterature.com or 07966 847580

cityofliterature.com

@EdinCityofLit

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

June 26, 2017

LAS letter to seek detail of National School Library Strategy

Following the inaugural meeting of the Scottish School Library Alliance in May 2017, it was agreed that each member would write a letter of support to the Public Petitions’ Committee seeking clarity from Deputy First Minister John Swinney on the detail of the proposed National Strategy for Scotland’s School Libraries. Our letter is posted below.

 

PETITION PE01581: SAVE SCOTLAND’S SCHOOL LIBRARIES

We have previously written on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland to the Public Petitions Committee in support of petition PE01581 (Save Scotland’s School Libraries), and would like to submit our latest response below.

We welcome the positive comments from Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, at the meeting of 20th April 2017, on his intention to formulate a National Strategy for Scotland’s School Libraries.

As Mr Swinney highlighted at this meeting, a professionally staffed school library plays a vital role in the lives of our nation’s young people, making a positive impact on education by improving literacy in all subjects and raising attainment across the curriculum.

Now that the Scottish Government has made this commitment to deliver a National School Library Strategy, we write to seek further clarification from the Deputy First Minister on the timescale for action, including detail on the Strategy’s development and delivery and the organisations to be involved in consultation. Literature Alliance Scotland also fully supports the petitioner’s proposal for National Standards to be established as part of a National Strategy.

Further, we endorse the offer from CILIPS, the Institute representing Scotland’s Library and Information Professionals and one of our members, to be involved with the development of a National Strategy and associated Standards and urge the Deputy First Minister to move forward in creating the Strategy at the earliest possible opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Peggy Hughes, Chair & Donald Smith, Vice-Chair

June 9, 2017

Libraries Matter – help spread the word

CILIP in Scotland is running a new campaign – Libraries Matter – in the lead up to the local government election in May – and needs your help! 
 
The campaign focuses on school and public libraries and involves two main activities – contacting those standing for election and asking them to support libraries if elected and also raising the profile of the campaign’s key messages via the press and social media.
To join in with the campaign and spread the word that Libraries Matter you can:
 
1. Share the campaign details and link with any wider networks you have: http://www.cilips.org.uk/advocacy-campaigns/campaigns/libraries-matter/
 
2. Provide a quote for CILIPS’ campaign support page (these can be provided by organisations or by individuals): http://www.cilips.org.uk/advocacy-campaigns/campaigns/libraries-matter/libraries-matter-campaign-support/
 
3. Post a picture of yourself, your staff and/or members of the public you may work with holding a ‘#LibrariesMatter’ sign (download from CILIPS’ website here) and post them on Twitter or Instagram with the #LibrariesMatter hashtag.

Graeme MacRae Burnet at The Mitchell Library. Photo: Kirsty Anderson

 For further information please email Sean McNamara or call 0141 353 5637. Follow the campaign on Twitter @CILIPScotland or via the hashtag #LibrariesMatter
 
February 17, 2017

LAS letter to John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary, 13 October 2016

LAS sent the following letter to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills in response to his letter of 6 October 2016.

Letter of 13 October 2016 to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.

Dear Cabinet Secretary

SCHOOL LIBRARIANS IN ARGYLL AND BUTE

Thank you very much for your further letter of 6 October 2016 and for the very useful additional information contained therein.

We note the Scottish Government’s intention to allocate funding from Council Tax reform in 2017-2018 to schools, enabling Head Teachers to decide how best to use the additional funding to meet local school needs. We very much welcome the statement that this will include supporting library provision, which we consider to be such an important part of modern school education.

We shall be writing to COSLA and to the Association of Head Teachers and Deputes (AHDS) to stress the importance of sustaining school libraries with trained school librarians in our schools in order to provide our young people with the highest quality of educational training.

We also welcome the Scottish Government’s current Governance Review on early years and schools education. We shall ensure that the Review is widely circulated among our networks and that our members are encouraged to respond. We shall, of course, also respond on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland (literaturealliancescotland.co.uk).

Yours sincerely

Ann Matheson, Chair
Donald Smith, Vice-Chair

 

October 13, 2016

Letter from John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary, seeking views on Governance Review

LAS received the following letter from John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, in which he highlights the recent launch of Empowering teachers, parents and communities to achieve equity and excellence: A Governance Review.

LAS will respond to the online consultation, which ends on 6 January 2017, and we would also urge our readers to submit their views via the above link.

 

Letter of 6 October 2016 from John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to Literature Alliance Scotland.

Thank you for your further letter of 13 September concerning the proposal to remove librarian posts from schools in Argyll and Bute. As I previously indicated in my response of 18 August the delivery of education including the management of a library service is the responsibility of the local authority and it would not be appropriate for Scottish Ministers to comment or intervene in local decisions.

However, I note your concerns and I would like to assure you that Scottish Ministers are committed to doing everything we can to ensure children and young people get the best start in life. This means we want them to get high quality early learning and childcare before they go to school and the best educations when they are at school.

You may be interested to know that from financials year 2017-2018 the additional £100 million per annum that will be raised each year from our Council Tax reforms will be allocated directly to schools. The allocation will be based on the numbers of children in primary schools and S1-3 in secondary schools who meet the eligibility criteria for free school meals. It is likely that applying this approach will mean that 95% of publicly funded schools will receive funding and Head Teachers will be able to determine how best to use additional funds to meet their local needs, such as library provision.

As you may be aware, the Scottish Government launched a Governance Review of early years and school education on 13 September. This governance review seeks your views on how education in Scotland is run, including who should take decisions in relation to the education of children and young people, and how funding can be made fairer. It also asks about the support teachers and practitioners need to do their jobs well and how this can be improved.

We want to hear views from every part of Scotland – from children and young people, from parents, teachers and practitioners and the wider community. We want to hear from those with a formal role in our education system and those who share a stake in its success. Further information on the Governance Review and events can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Education/thegovernancereview

There is also the opportunity to respond to the review directly through our online survey at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/empowering-schools/a-governance-review

Yours sincerely,

John Swinney

 

October 6, 2016

LAS Letter to the Public Petitions Committee in Support of School Libraries

LAS sent the following letter to the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament, which convened at the end of September with a new panel, in support of Duncan Wright’s petition on the need for a national approach to save Scotland’s school libraries and ensure access to a school library with a trained school librarian for every child in Scotland.

Letter of 21 September 2016 to Johann Lamont MSP, Chair of Public Petitions Committee

Dear Ms Lamont
PUBLIC PETITIONS COMMITTEE
PETITION PE01581: SAVE SCOTLAND’S SCHOOL LIBRARIES

On 19 December 2015, we wrote on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland, to the then Chair of the Public Petitions Committee, Mr Michael McMahon, in support of the petition ‘Save Scotland’s School Libraries’, lodged by Mr Duncan Wright. We attach a copy of our letter of 19 December 2015, along with a list of the principal literature organisations in Scotland represented by Literature Alliance Scotland. We wish to submit the following additional comments.

Since we wrote in December 2015, we are gravely concerned that Argyll & Bute Council decided to dispense with all its school librarians in February 2016 and that, despite entreaties from all sides, most prominently from the children and young people of Argyll and Bute, the Council has not yet rescinded its decision and reinstated its school librarians.

Depriving the children and young people of Argyll and Bute, or any other part of the country, of their trained school librarians directly acts against giving them equal opportunities and equal rights. Trained school librarians are an essential part of a modern school. They transform the school library into a place of learning, where pupils can be helped in directing their own reading, learning and research.

Other countries understand the essential part that school librarians and school libraries play in young people’s education. Under the Swedish 2011 Education Act, pupils in Sweden are entitled to a school library staffed by trained school librarians: it is viewed as a child’s right. In Denmark, where its Education Act requires every school to have a school library, school libraries are becoming learning centres where the school librarian, the learning instructor, advises, trains and guides learners in an understanding and knowledge of books and digital information. If we are also ambitious for our children and young people, why would we not follow suit?

Literature Alliance Scotland strongly supports the current emphasis on closing the gap in opportunity between children and young people in different parts of the country, and the aim of giving every child equal life chances on which they can build. There can be no higher aim in seeking to build a fairer and more equal country. The results will help to determine the success that individual young people can make of their lives and will also influence the future success of Scotland. However, to succeed, we will need to work constructively together to avoid a situation where children’s chances continue to depend on where they happen to find themselves in the country, something over which they have absolutely no control.

We implore the Public Petitions Committee to take up the cause of school libraries in Scotland vigorously, and to urge the Scottish Government and the local authorities in Scotland to work constructively together to think about our young people’s futures and save Scotland’s network of school libraries.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ann Matheson, Chair,
Dr Donald Smith, Vice-Chair

Enc. Literature Alliance Scotland Membership

LAS Membership at September 2016
MEMBERS

  • Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Association of Scottish Literary Agents
  • CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland)
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • The Gaelic Books Council
  • Moniack Mhor
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust
  • Playwrights’ Studio Scotland
  • Publishing Scotland
  • The Saltire Society
  • Scots Language Centre
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Language Dictionaries
  • SLAM (Scottish Literary and Arts Magazines)
  • Scottish Society of Playwrights
  • Scottish PEN
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Forum
  • Scottish Writers Centre
  • Society of Authors in Scotland
  • Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Wigtown Festival Company
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (Scottish Region)
September 21, 2016

LAS Letter to John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary to support school libraries in Argyll & Bute

LAS sent the following letter to John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary, to support school librarians in Argyll & Bute.

Letter of 13 September 2016 to John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary of Education and Skills.

Dear Cabinet Secretary,
SCHOOL LIBRARIANS IN ARGYLL AND BUTE

Thank you very much for your letter of 18 August 2016, in response to our letter about the decision of Argyll and Bute Council to remove school librarians from schools in Argyll and Bute. We very much appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending such a detailed reply.

Literature Alliance Scotland strongly supports the Scottish Government in its decision to make it a national priority to reduce the attainment gap between children and young people in different parts of the country, and to give every child equal life chances on which they can build. There can be no higher aim in seeking to build a fairer and more equal country. The results will help to determine the success that individual young people can make of their lives and will also influence the future success of Scotland.

Our concern is that decisions such as depriving the children and young people of Argyll and Bute of their trained school librarians act against the national priority of seeking to reduce the country’s attainment gap. Trained school librarians are an essential part of a modern school. They transform the school library into a place of learning, where pupils can be helped in directing their own reading, learning and research. Under the Swedish 2011 Education Act, for example, pupils in Sweden are entitled to a school library staffed by trained school librarians: it is viewed as a child’s right.

To succeed in Scotland, we will need to work constructively together to avoid a situation where children’s chances continue to depend on where they happen to find themselves in the country, something over which they have no control.

With others, we shall continue to make the case for the reinstatement of school librarians in Argyll and Bute to Leader and Councillors of Argyll & Bute Council and press them to rescind their decision.

Yours sincerely,

Ann Matheson (Chair)
Donald Smith (Vice-Chair

September 13, 2016

Response from Argyll & Bute Council to LAS

The following response has been received from Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll & Bute Council, to the letter from Literature Alliance Scotland in support of the plea from pupils in Argyll & Bute to retain their school librarians.

 

Dear Literature Alliance Scotland

I refer to your letter of 13th July which follows your communication of 21st April.

I do understand the concerns that you express and it is a matter of deep regret to everyone at Argyll and Bute Council that, like all Scottish councils, due to significant reductions in our funding we are simply no longer able to do all that our communities want us to. The context in which councils have been forced to make very difficult choices has been well publicised and is a matter of fact.

It is important to point out that before making any decisions the council carried out an extensive consultation on Service Choices, which attracted a very high level of response. Although the views expressed during this consultation were, of course, listened to and taken on board where they could be, it was simply not possible to reject all of the savings options.

However, the budget ultimately agreed by council managed to mitigate a large number of the savings options consulted on. It reflected a significant priority given to young people’s services and managed to save over 100FTE jobs. The options which were rejected minimised the impact on teachers, classroom assistants, pupil support assistants, janitors, technicians and others. Unfortunately, changes to library services were areas that had to be looked at. At this stage, any option rejected means that another one must be taken in its place.

That said, libraries will remain in Argyll and Bute schools. Working with Head Teachers and other education staff, we are looking at finding different solutions for the schools in our communities, looking at all aspects including timetabling, handling book stock, and how the library facilities and resources in our schools can be used in the best ways to continue to support pupils’ learning.  This will include closer working with our public library service to assist with resourcing and particular initiatives.  We are taking these steps so that our pupils will be able to continue to use the library facilities in our schools. As part of the budget setting process, the council has also been able to avoid any community library closures and have invested in new community library services on Mull and on Tiree which will operate from the respective schools.

I would repeat our regret at the position in which this council, like so many others, finds itself as a result of significantly reduced funding. However, that regret is matched by our commitment to mitigating as much as possible the impact of the reduced funding,  to look for new ways of working and to continue to do as much as we are able to do for our communities.

 

Councillor Dick Walsh (Council Leader)

Argyll & Bute Council

July 21, 2016
Response from Argyll & Bute Council to LAS

LAS Open Letter to Argyll & Bute Council

This open letter has been sent by LAS members to the Leader and Councillors of Argyll & Bute Council in support of the plea by pupils in Argyll & Bute to their Council to save their school librarians and their school libraries (http://www.cilips.org.uk/news/2016/6/30/heartfelt-plea-from-argyll-and-bute-pupils-to-keep-their-sch.html).

Letter of 11 July 2016 to Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll & Bute Council

Dear Councillor Walsh

ARGYLL & BUTE COUNCIL:  SCHOOL LIBRARIES AND SCHOOL LIBRARIANS IN ARGYLL & BUTE

We wrote on 21 April 2016 on behalf of the members of Literature Alliance Scotland earnestly to ask you to restore the school librarian posts from schools in Argyll and Bute, which had been recommended for withdrawal by a decision of Council earlier in the year.

Now that pupils in Argyll and Bute have recently written to Theresa Breslin, author and current President of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPs), and to other children’s authors, seeking their support in keeping their school librarians and their school libraries, we are writing again as an alliance of Scotland’s literature organisations to plead with you to rescind this decision.

We will not restate here the case for the importance of school libraries staffed by trained school librarians, as set out in our letter of 21 April 2016, but we firmly stand by all the points made in our letter. We would only point out again that our neighbours in the Nordic countries and in The Netherlands have already recognised and acted upon the essential role that their school libraries and professional school librarians play in encouraging and training pupils to read, investigate, research and, by these means, to attain in the digital age in which we now live.

Scotland has long been admired elsewhere for the strong network of school libraries that was built up across the country over successive decades in the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s by dedicated effort, enthusiasm and support from all sides. As you will know, COSLA produced its very important Standards for School Library Services in Scotland in 1998. We are certain that all of us wish to ensure that such an essential service is sustained and maintained for the young people of today and tomorrow and that its fragmentation, which denies opportunity to those affected, is avoided.

The plea from pupils in Argyll and Bute is more eloquent than any words that we can write (http://www.cilips.org.uk/news/2016/6/30/heartfelt-plea-from-argyll-and-bute-pupils-to-keep-their-sch.html).  We implore you to listen to them and to protect the school library service they consider so important to them. The future success of our young people will determine the future success of our country.

We request that our letter is laid before all Councillors in Argyll & Bute Council.

 

Dr Ann Matheson (Chair)                  Dr Donald Smith (Vice-Chair)

July 15, 2016
LAS Open Letter to Argyll & Bute Council

LAS Letter to Argyll & Bute Council about School Librarians

This letter has been sent by Literature Alliance Scotland members to the Leader of Argyll & Bute Council in connection with the decision to withdraw ten school librarians from Argyll and Bute.

Letter of 26 April 2016 to Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll & Bute Council

Dear Councillor Walsh

ARGYLL & BUTE COUNCIL: SCHOOL LIBRARIANS

We are writing on behalf of the members of Literature Alliance Scotland earnestly to ask you to restore the ten school librarian posts from schools in Argyll and Bute, which were recommended for withdrawal by a decision of Council earlier this year. Literature Alliance Scotland, which brings together Scotland’s literature organisations, strongly argues for the vital role of school librarians in encouraging young people to read, introducing them to learning, improving literacy, and assisting pupils’ academic attainment and chances in life.

One of the key priorities for Scotland at present is to reduce the attainment gap between children in different areas of our society. The school library is an essential part of this foundation since it is open and equal to all pupils. The trained school librarian, in turn, transforms the library into a place of learning, or a ‘learning environment’, where pupils can be assisted in directing their own reading, learning and research. It is also a quiet and thoughtful place for study which pupils sometimes are not able to find at home, thus placing them at a disadvantage with their more fortunate peers, and the school librarian is there as a guiding and supporting presence.

Research data internationally supports the view that school libraries have a definite positive impact on academic achievement.  In response to the digital age, school library systems internationally are now adapting to meet the likely needs of future generations of young people. The consensus is that school libraries, staffed by professionally qualified librarians, are vital in equipping new generations of pupils, today’s  ‘digital natives’, with the skills they will need in a fast-moving and changing digital world. Some countries have already gone further than Scotland. Denmark, for example, where the Education Act requires every school to have a school library, decided in 2013 to make its school libraries into learning centres where the school librarian, ‘the learning instructor’, advises, trains and guides pupils in the learning skills they require for modern life.

Scotland has long been admired elsewhere for the strong network of school libraries that was built up across the country over successive decades in the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s by dedicated effort, enthusiasm and support from all sides. As you will know, COSLA produced its very important Standards for School Library Services in Scotland in 1998. We are certain that all of us wish to ensure that such an essential service is sustained and maintained for the young people of today and tomorrow and that its fragmentation, which denies opportunity to those affected, is avoided.

We understand and sympathise with current financial pressures, but we do urge you to reconsider this decision in the interests of the young people of Argyll and Bute.

 

Dr Ann Matheson (Chairman)                        Dr Robyn Marsack (Vice-Chairman)

 

APPENDIX 1

LITERATURE ALLIANCE SCOTLAND

Membership at April 2016 

  • Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Association of Scottish Literary Agents
  • Book Nation/Borders Book Festival
  • CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland)
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • The Gaelic Books Council
  • Moniack Mhor
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Playwrights’ Studio, Scotland
  • Publishing Scotland
  • The Saltire Society
  • Scots Language Centre
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Language Dictionaries
  • SLAM (Scottish Literary and Arts Magazines)
  • Scottish Society of Playwrights
  • Scottish PEN
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Forum
  • Scottish Writers Centre
  • Society of Authors in Scotland
  • Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Wigtown Festival Company
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (Scottish Region)
April 27, 2016
LAS Letter to Argyll & Bute Council about School Librarians

LAS Statement for CILIPS Manifesto on Libraries 2016

 

Literature Alliance Scotland has contributed the following statement to the Manifesto for Libraries, which is being drawn together by the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) in advance of the Scottish Parliament Election in May 2016.

‘Literature Alliance Scotland firmly believes that libraries and librarians offer the most democratic means of providing citizens with access to knowledge, and that one of libraries’ most essential roles is acting as the nexus between writers and the public, placing literature at the heart of every community, accessible to every citizen.  Publishers perform an essential role in this process. Literature Alliance Scotland strongly wishes to see Scottish books in all of Scotland’s languages acquired consistently by public and school libraries across the country, so that people have access to the best of their national literature at all stages of life.  We believe that this is an opportune time for a fresh consideration of how this can be accomplished because of the coincidence of the recent Creative Scotland literature review, the recent national strategy for public libraries in Scotland and the development of, for example, Scottish Studies within the national Curriculum for Excellence.’

February 29, 2016
LAS Statement for CILIPS Manifesto on Libraries 2016

LAS Response to School Libraries Petition

Literature Alliance Scotland sent the following response in support of the Petition: ‘Save Scotland’s School Libraries’, which is currently being considered by the Petitions Committee in the Scottish Parliament.

Letter of 19 December 2015 to Michael McMahon MSP, Chair of Public Petitions Committee, The Scottish Parliament

Dear Sir

PUBLIC PETITIONS COMMITTEE
PETITION PE01581: SAVE SCOTLAND’S SCHOOL LIBRARIES

We write on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland, which brings together the principal literature organisations in Scotland as listed in Appendix 1 , in support of the petition ‘Save Scotland’s School Libraries’, which has been lodged by Mr Duncan Wright. We agree with the points made in the petition and strongly support the call for a national strategy for school libraries in Scotland. We would submit the following points:

  1. Literature Alliance Scotland (literaturealliancescotland.co.uk) shares the concern that Scotland’s network of school libraries, staffed by professional school librarians, has been gradually fragmenting and submits that urgent action is required to stem this decline. The process of fragmentation has become more acute in recent years as local authorities have made choices on which services to reduce in response to financial pressures. The result is that Scotland is creating a situation where the school library service young people receive depends on where they live, something over which they have no choice or control. This cannot be the way to plan for the next generation of Scots to have equal opportunities. Scotland was renowned among other European countries decades ago for its strong sustainable networks of both school libraries and public libraries. We should not risk weakening our networks at the very time when we will need them more.
  2. The recent OECD Report, Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective, 2015, notes (p.64) that performance in reading in primary and secondary schools has declined from 2012 to 2014. International evidence shows the vital role of school libraries in improving literacy and encouraging reading: it is well known, for example, that school students will often approach the school librarian for assistance rather than a teacher. With Curriculum for Excellence being described as ‘at a watershed’ in the OECD Report, it will be all the more important to have good school libraries available to school students if Scotland is to fulfil its potential and offer a world-class education system. Elsewhere in Europe, Finland attributes its top performance in PISA reading results to its excellent library system. Recognizing the importance of school libraries in this process, steps are currently being taken there to build up existing school library provision to bring it up to the standard of other parts of their library system.
  3. In common with other comparable countries, the Scottish Government has a vision for Scotland to be a world-class digital nation by 2020 (http://www.digitalscotland.org/about-digital-scotland/). School libraries, staffed by professionally qualified librarians, will be vital in equipping the new generation of school students and ‘digital natives’ in Scotland with all the necessary information literacy skills to meet the needs of the changing digital world.
  4. In developing a national strategy for school libraries in Scotland, the opportunity should be taken to examine how other countries are developing their school library systems in response to the digital age and to consider various existing models. For example – Denmark, where the Education Act requires every school to have a school library, decided in 2013 to make its school libraries into learning centres where the school librarian, the learning instructor, advises, trains and guides school students in relation to digital information and printed books. Naturally, Scotland must decide on the model that best suits its own requirements, but a consideration of how other advanced countries are addressing this issue would be illuminating.

We strongly encourage the Scottish Government to support the call to develop a national strategy for school libraries in Scotland to meet the needs of the 21st century, and then to implement the strategy in a sustained and consistent way across the country.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ann Matheson (Chair)

Dr Robyn Marsack (Vice Chair)

January 4, 2016
LAS Response to School Libraries Petition

LAS Letter to Fife Council on Proposed Library Closures

This letter has been sent by Literature Alliance Scotland members to the Leader of Fife Council in connection with the proposed library closures in Fife, now out to local consultation.

Letter of 31 August 2015 to Councillor David Ross, Leader of Fife Council, and copied to Mr Steve Grimmond, Chief Executive of Fife Council.

Dear Councillor Ross

The Fife Council:  Fife Libraries

We are writing on behalf of the members of Literature Alliance Scotland about the proposed closure of sixteen libraries in Fife.  Literature Alliance Scotland, which represents the literature organisations in Scotland, is a strong advocate of public libraries because they are so crucial in providing access to literature, encouraging reading, assisting literacy and improving people’s chances in life.

We very much welcome your decision to hold a consultation with communities in Fife in order to listen to local views, and we are pleased that you have allowed a substantial period of time up to 6 November 2015 for this consultation to take place.

Libraries in Fife have built a strong reputation for serving their communities.  Indeed, nationally and internationally, Fife, as the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, is synonymous with public libraries. We do understand that the Council is under pressure to make financial savings, and that there are difficult decisions to be taken.  We should like to support you in listening to local people’s views about their public libraries and to lend our voice in encouraging you to maintain a strong viable network of libraries in local communities, so that people who live in Fife can always have a library close at hand to which it is easy for them to travel and to use.

Public libraries provide meeting places where people have access to culture, knowledge and the chance to learn. In weighing your decisions, we invite you to consider the way in which successful countries (the Nordic countries and The Netherlands, for example) are currently actively strengthening and building upon their existing networks of public libraries. They see them as the principal way for their societies to provide local democratic access to knowledge and culture in the digital age.  Libraries provide equal opportunities for everyone, and everyone in our society has a right to choose their own path.

Scotland has long been known for its strong support for public libraries and school libraries, and for the public’s regard for the excellent network of libraries that has already been created for all of us who live here. Despite the financial pressures at this point, we believe that it is crucial that we should try to preserve the best of what has been cultivated over many generations and combine this with the tools of the digital age.  Involving local people and communities in participating with the Council in making decisions about their own libraries is the best way to ensure that libraries can continue to serve people’s present and future needs.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ann Matheson (Chairman)                   Dr Robyn Marsack (Vice-Chairman)

 

APPENDIX 1

LITERATURE ALLIANCE SCOTLAND

Membership at August 2015

  • Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Association of Scottish Literary Agents
  • CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland)
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • The Gaelic Books Council
  • Moniack Mhor
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Playwrights’ Studio Scotland
  • Publishing Scotland
  • The Saltire Society
  • Scots Language Centre
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Language Dictionaries
  • SLIC (Scottish Libraries and Information Council)
  • SLAM (Scottish Literary and Arts Magazines)
  • Scottish Society of Playwrights
  • Scottish PEN
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Forum
  • Scottish Writers Centre
  • Society of Authors in Scotland
  • Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Wigtown Festival Company
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (Scottish Region)

 

August 31, 2015
LAS Letter to Fife Council on Proposed Library Closures