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School libraries get campaign boost

A drive to protect and improve school libraries has been launched by the School Library Association.

The association has published a primary school library charter to help heads and governors set up a new collection, or to improve their current one.

It calls for schools not only to make space for libraries but also to employ trained staff to help children make the most of the facilities.

Tricia Adams, director of the SLA, said: "We believe every child should have access to a good school library, how that is provided depends on the circumstances of each school.

"Most primary schools seem to have something they call a library, but a lot don't have anyone there helping children to use it. If there is no one there at breaktime or lunchtimes, schools are not getting the best out of their library."

The charter will feed into the campaign to put school libraries on a more secure footing, in the face of feared public spending cuts.

More than 5,700 people signed a recent petition, started by children's author Alan Gibbons, to make school libraries statutory.

The Government's response was that there were no plans to make school libraries statutory. Instead its policy was to put money into schools' budgets and leave the choices about school library provision and book resourcing to them.

A commission on school libraries has now been set up by the National Literacy Trust and the Museums, Libraries Archives Council. It will be chaired by Baroness Morris, former education secretary, and will report in June.

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