Dear Justine: School Libraries Need Your Help!

Dear Ms Greening

I write to you today out of desperation, English teens are the most illiterate in the developed world


Does this frighten you? To be honest it terrifies me! We have a group of young people poised to enter the job market and they are at best barely functionally literate.

In my years as a Public & Youth Services Librarian I have worked with young people that were barely able to read The Cat in the Hat. Since 2011 when austerity measures were enacted in the UK and my post in the public library service was cut I have worked as a School Librarian.

Since then I have been concerned that School Libraries and Librarians are not statutory – not because I am worried about job security (well maybe a little) but because studies show that School Libraries have a positive impact on student learning and development.


Our latest research review shows that school libraries have a positive impact on all areas of pupils’ learning, including the development of reading and writing skills, their self-esteem and their overall academic attainment.(Literacy Trust)

In 2014 the Libraries APPG recognises that School Libraries should be looked at during Ofsted inspections:

As many School Librarians are solo workers we regularly speak to each other via e-mail and social media and lately what I have heard from friends and colleagues across the country fills me with a growing sense of disquiet, Library staff having to purchase books using their own funds as their budgets have been slashed to zero, parent volunteers freely giving their time in school libraries after professional staff have been let go only to see their efforts fall apart as the school has no-one to promote library use.

The purpose of this e-mail is to implore you to revisit the stance that the heads of schools should determine whether or not to employ a school librarian or even have a school library.

If required I can send you more evidence or put you in touch with other professional organisations that can provide even more information on what School Libraries and Librarians can and do offer to enable learners to reach their full potential.

Warmest regards

Matt Imrie
Librarian & Editor: Teen Librarian

3 Thoughts on “Dear Justine: School Libraries Need Your Help!

  1. Jane Welby on November 21, 2017 at 1:07 pm said:

    Thank you Matt. I hope she listens because this is important.

  2. Laura Richards on November 21, 2017 at 10:47 pm said:

    Thank you, Matt! Great letter and an important message. Why are Scotland so far ahead of us with this? Seems like they have made some progress recently.

  3. Debra Perrin on November 22, 2017 at 10:30 pm said:

    Well said.

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