Campaign for the book

Initial draft for discussion

Campaign for the book

Charter 2008

The 2008 Year of Reading has been a great success. There have been many exciting initiatives such as the Boys into Books campaign. In many ways, reading has never been more popular. Millions of books are bought and devoured by a huge reading public. Many authors are major figures in public life.

These successes can disguise very serious problems however which are undermining the place of the book and reading for pleasure in national life. Here are some of the challenges we face:

*public library closures- sixty last year and more planned

*a loss of professional library staff- down 13% between 1995 and 2005

*more untrained volunteers instead of qualified library staff

*fewer books in schools, a 15% reduction while there has been 28% rise in spending on education

*a shift from books to computer services

*the closure of school libraries to make way for IT suites

*the sacking or down grading of both public and school librarians

*the closure of school libraries

*the marginalisation of reading for pleasure and the reading of whole books in many schools as teaching to the test replaces the pleasure of acquiring knowledge for its own sake

Given the present economic difficulties, many of these challenges are likely to become more pressing.

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

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.

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. Opposition to downgrading. In some places this has reduced librarians’ salaries by up to half

7.      The promotion of reading whole books in school rather than excerpts

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

Supporters of the Campaign for the Book do not see themselves as competitors with professional associations, trade unions and existing library or school campaigns. We seek to create a national network to help coordinate the efforts of all who want to protect the status of the book and reading for pleasure. We will offer our support to local campaigns and initiatives.

It is time to stand up for reading.

It is time to campaign for the book.

For further information contact Alan Gibbons at: aagibbons@blueyonder.co.uk

 

120 thoughts on “Campaign for the book

  1. The actual trouble of computer system clean-up necessitates serious attention presently. You ought to keep in mind which your own actions can in fact affect severely your computer stability. There is a collection of expertise a person will need to possess to perform the job properly.

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  6. Please add my name to the list of supporters. I work for the Schools Library Service and it is worrying to see the decline in importance given to the role of school libraries and librarians

  7. Please add my name to the Campaign. I have many joyful memories of time spent in St John’s Wood, Marylebone, Kentish Town, Southwark, Woolwich and the City libraries. We cannot let libraries become yet another sacrifice to the Money God.

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  18. Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
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