Monday, 15 December 2008

The Campaign for the Book

Vulpes Libris (the book foxes) have a recent post introducing 'The Campaign for the Book'. This is a campaign organised by Alan Gibbons, a childrens author, who beliefs libraries are of extreme importance to our culture.

The campaign has a charter which outlines what those involved have deicated themselve to:

We, the signatories of this Charter commit ourselves to campaigning for the following:

1. The central place of reading for pleasure in society.

2. A proper balance of book provision and Information Technology in public and school libraries. We welcome the integration of new technologies but believe that they must not erode the key place of books and the need for a healthy and expanding book stock.

3. The defence of public libraries and librarians from attempts to cut spending in a ‘soft’ area.

4. An extension of the role of the school librarian and a recognition of the school library as a key engine of learning. All staff employed in school libraries to have access to appropriate and adequate support and training.

5. The recruitment of more school librarians. It is a national scandal that less than a third of secondary schools has a trained librarian.

6. The defence of the professional status of the public and school librarian. We oppose downgrading. In some places this has reduced librarians’ salaries by up to half.

7. A higher profile for reading for pleasure in schools, including shadowing book awards, inviting authors and illustrators to visit, developing school creative writing magazines.

8. To support the sustainability and future development of Schools Library Service provision nationally.

9. To promote a more positive reading culture in school, in which the reading of whole books is preferred to studying extracts alone

All of this is pretty important stuff. If you love reading chances are you've had a positive encounter with a library. One of my favourite childhood memories is finding the hardback copy of Philip Pullman's 'Northern Lights' in Dudley library. It was the first cover design edition, the one featuring the detailed version of the altheiometer and I loved it. I read it three times before buying my own copy but I never found a copy with that exact cover. This was just one of many wonderful encounters I have had with books in my local libraries.

In my area (West Midlands UK) there are several libraries which are well run but which would certainly benefit from increased funding. If you haven't yet picked your reading charity for next year I urge you to think about reading for your local library in 2009.

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