Importance of school libraries

New literacy strategy is disappointing

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – As school librarians we eagerly awaited the release of the literacy, numeracy and digital literacy strategy (2024-2033).

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD launched the strategy on Thursday with the declaration that “a collective effort is required from teachers, school leaders, learners, parents, communities and policymakers” (“Students to get digital media literacy lessons to help combat misinformation”, News, May 16th).

We were disappointed, however, to see that neither the strategy document, nor the separately published implementation plan, makes even a passing reference to school libraries.

The strategy makes numerous references to libraries, but always in the context of public libraries, for instance citing “increased usage of the library service by primary and post primary learners, teachers and schools” as an indicator of success. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the department is determined to focus exclusively on links between schools and public libraries, and intends to quietly backtrack on its 2005 commitment to extend the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) Demonstration Library Project to all Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (Deis) schools, which serve communities at risk of disadvantage and social exclusion.

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Only 30 out of 235 Deis schools enjoy the benefits that a school library, with a qualified school librarian, can deliver.

If the Department of Education is serious about achieving success on this front, it must make good on its commitment to deliver a school library with a qualified librarian in each Deis school, an objective that recent Joint Oireachtas Committee reports have identified as “an urgent national priority”. – Yours, etc,

ANDREA DILLON,

Secretary,

KATHLEEN MORAN,

Chair,

School Libraries Group,

The Library Association of Ireland,

Dublin 2.

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