Karen in fight for school libraries

Keighley News: Oakbank School librarian Karen King Oakbank School librarian Karen King

A Keighley librarian has lobbied Parliament to promote and safeguard school libraries.

Karen King, the school librarian at Oakbank, took part in the mass lobby to call for pupils across the country to benefit from a uniformly-high standard of library provision.

She said she wanted the excellent facilities at her own workplace to be replicated elsewhere.

She has warned that while research shows close links between attainment and professionally-run school libraries, such provision is not protected by law and depends on the priorities of individual head teachers.

Karen, who lives in Cross Hills, is on the national committee of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) school libraries group.

Describing the lobbying day in London, she said: “After assembling in Victoria Embankment Gardens we got our T-shirts and placards, and set off walking to the Houses of Parliament.

“We were delighted to be joined by authors such as Cressida Cowell and Francesca Simon who had come to support us. In the central lobby I met with [Keighley and Skipton MPs] Kris Hopkins and Julian Smith. Both were interested in what we had to tell them.

“Kris took a particular interest in the help and support school librarians can offer in schools where many students have English as an additional language. Both agreed to write to the Secretary of State for Education in support of our suggestions.

“The vice-chair elect of CILIP and other CILIP staff had a meeting with Government minister Liz Truss.

“The outcome was that the minister has commissioned the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries to lead an investigation into the benefits of school libraries. She also wants to know why some head teachers don't recognise the value of libraries and therefore close them.

“Some MPs have also raised an early day motion, a formal motion submitted for debate, and which individual MPs can sign to show their support.

“Anyone can write to their MP in support of school libraries, and ask them to sign the early day motion. They can ask about the library and school librarian at parents’ evenings and open days, as schools do notice when parents take an interest in things.”

To see who has signed the early day motion go to parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/647.

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