A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

School Library Strategy development set for Autumn 2017

The Scottish Government is to start developing a School Library strategy this Autumn.

The news was confirmed in a recent response letter to the Public Petitions Committee regarding the ongoing petition by Duncan Wright, Trustee of Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS), asking for a strategy as part of his ‘Save Scotland’s School Libraries’ campaign.

LAS welcomes the positive news and encouraging step forward in the Scottish Government’s response, which states:

“SLIC (Scottish Library Information Council) will lead the development of the strategy in collaboration with key partner organisations. The strategy will build upon the work undertaken by SLIC with Education Scotland to develop and integrate librarian-focused guidance into the main ‘How Good Is Our School 4’ (HGIOS4) whole school self-evaluation framework.

“Development and engagement on the strategy will begin in the autumn, following the publication of the new HGIOS4 guidance on school libraries.

“It is important that the aims, objectives and content of the strategy are developed in a collaborative way.

“The engagement to develop the strategy will therefore include all key stakeholders, including the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professional in Scotland (CILIPS) and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES).

“The aim is for the final strategy to be agreed and published ahead of the 2018/19 school year. The detailed timetable for the work will be developed and agreed with SLIC during the course of summer 2017. Officials will also contact CILIPS and the petitioner himself in order to clarify the timetable and the process to develop the strategy.”
July 4, 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.



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

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

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

  • 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 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


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