Your report, “SOS, save our Stories”, and editorial, “Books are the key to education” (17 September), draw attention to recent and potential reductions in school library provision in Scotland.
The focus on the significant role of school libraries in providing access to books and support for reading is timely given national concern about the levels of literacy amongst Scotland’s young people.
The Scottish Government’s strategy of automatic public library membership for all children, welcome though it is, is not going to overcome the disadvantages of reducing school library provision.
This is particularly so in secondary schools where the role of the school library and librarian is to support pupil learning, not only by developing reading but also through the development of pupils’ abilities to find, evaluate and use information whether from books or from the internet – building blocks for life-long learning.
There is considerable international evidence of the positive effects of school libraries on learning and achievement, a key factor being the presence of professionally qualified librarians with the skills and qualities needed to support the learner and develop the reader.
On the basis of that evidence, any reductions in school library provision are likely to exacerbate the problem of declining literacy and impact negatively on educational attainment.
Emeritus Professor of Information Science
Robert Gordon University