Universal library schemes to be trialled for young people


A total of 22 projects across the country have been given funding to test automatic library membership for young people.

Projects include libraries working with birth registration services to offer library cards at birth and also with school library services to promote membership.

The Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has set aside £55,000 for the projects, which are based across the UK in places such as York, Plymouth, Brighton and a number of London boroughs.

Projects include library “joining packs” being sent to primary and secondary pupils in Barnet, while in South Gloucestershire, data from secondary schools is to be combined with the Active Card database which includes the membership of library and leisure centres meaning that cards can be issued to students or their parents. 

In Surrey, the library service and St Andrew’s Secondary School are in discussion to potentially bulk register the school’s pupils.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: “One of the greatest gifts we can bestow on our children is a love of books and reading. Joining a library at a young age is a fantastic route into a world of literature, entertainment and exploration and I very much look forward to seeing the results of these innovative library card pilots.”

However, while welcoming the importance being placed on reading from an early age by the government, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, pointed out that the project could be undermined because of library closures due to the austerity agenda. She added: “I hope after this announcement, the government will work with local authorities to ensure that communities do not lose such a vital resource as the local library.”

The project is being run by the Arts Council and a full list of projects can be found at www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/apply-for-funding/automatic-library-membership/


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