Children taking their first steps on a reading journey need help, support and encouragement in order to ensure that the journey is a lifelong one. If we support them, the effects can be transformational, boosting life chances, happiness and educational attainment. For generations this vital support has been provided by trained library professionals and it must continue. Those of us who benefited from well-stocked and expertly staffed public and school libraries should understand best of all how important these services are to families, especially those who struggle financially, those whose children struggle with reading and need expert help and advice, and those who have children who are keen readers and could simply never afford to feed their reading appetites in a bookshop. The more readers we make, the better our society becomes, and readers are made in libraries.

MAIRI KIDD

How can we look the children of the future in the eyes whilst taking away the single most important tool for them to thrive: the opportunity and hence ability to read? How can we listen to politicians, who claim they will make this country great, when the foundations for any positive and creative growth are systematically being removed? How are we going to find words to explain decisions with a negative impact on our already poor literacy standards? 

BELINDA RASSMUSSEN,

Head of Publishing

Macmillan Children’s Books

The role of Children’s Librarian in a local library – as opposed to a school librarian – is a vital part of the school community, and beyond.


A good Children’s Librarian will work with local schools, school libraries, local bookshops and authors. As well as managing the day to day running of a bricks and mortar library.


Centrally based Children’s Librarians are better placed to organise author visits with local school. Meeting an author can be a very special occasion for children, and can inspire them to creativity. If you remove the role of Children’s Librarian many children will never get the chance meet an author. Author visits in libraries are a great introduction to many children to libraries, and also increase library footfall in the long run.


All of the above helps to foster a love of reading for pleasure in children. Creating a positive attitude towards reading for pleasure is useful in any students’ academic achievement. Studies have shown that reading for pleasure is significantly, positively correlated to student creativity.


Tim and Simon,

BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP,

Wood Green

and

Ian,

BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP EDUCATION


I was very shocked to hear that Haringey Libraries are cutting their specialist children's librarians, and that there have been no new books acquired for the library over the last year, when I know that so many important books have been published over the last twelve months that would help children to understand the complex issues of today and aid their development at home and at school and within our society.


The UK's specialist children's librarians are among the best in the world, and are a vital key to ensuring that the right books get into the hands of the right children at the right time in their development.


This is a role that requires not just a passion for books but enormous expertise in judging the needs of each child who enters the library, in terms of interest level, reading level and personal and social development needs. Our children's librarians play a critical and often underrated role in developing literacy standards within our education system but, even more important, they have the knowledge and insight and practical ability to nurture a lifelong love of books in all our children, including particularly those who may not have books at home. Our society loses the services of professional children's librarians at its peril.


As an editor I regularly take advice from children's librarians on what and how to publish for children. Their knowledge and expertise is irreplaceable.


JANNETTA OTTER-BARRY

Publisher, Otter-Barry Books

We have always seen our relationship with libraries as a symbiotic one, and the lessening of the value of books and knowledge of books and reading particularly by making them harder to find on high streets through libraries and shops is the primary reason we opened Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End in the first place! We continue of course to be vocal supporters of libraries both professionally and personally


Steven and Urmi,

PICKLED PEPPER BOOKS,

Crouch End

I'm in Belfast but have been following your campaign. I met Haringey children, librarians and other workers when I was over for the Haringey Children's Book award. My book The Best Medicine won, and I'll always be indebted to those Haringey kids who love reading.

  

I saw the amazing work the librarians do, and the amazing way the librarians encourage the children and promote reading.

CHRISTINE HAMILL,

Winner, Haringey Children’s Book Award

You may have read in The Bookseller and the Ham & High that Haringey Council are denying anything has changed, and are claiming the Children’s Library service remains the same. We know this isn’t true, but we’d like to gather accounts from you, the Library users, to feature on this page to help refute this.

You can email Hari here, and let him know the personal experiences you've had of the impact of these changes.

Below you’ll find messages of support Hari has already received

Local schools are suffering.  We worked closely with the dedicated children’s librarians; their knowledge was vital to the service we provide to students in Haringey schools.  It is surely necessary to retain key strategic specialist roles to ensure that the children’s library service is effective and proactive.

The loss of a Principal Librarian for the children’s libraries is already being felt by the Haringey Schools in a number of ways, as there is no central person to liaise with regarding the superb events that used to be organised.  Last year, for example, Haringey schools won a bid - YA Shot -to get (free) authors into their nearest public library.  We took classes of students out of school to meet them.  We are concerned that this dilution of Haringey’s library service will harm the literacy and development of children in a borough which can be particularly needy. 

We would refer the council to this extract from joint letter sent to Judith Walker [Head Of Libraries and Customer Service] in November 2016 by the Haringey School Librarian’s Group: “Clearly energy and resources should be directed towards encouraging children to read. Simply continuing to run story times and homework clubs is not enough. In our experience the really powerful and effective way to get children reading is to be knowledgeable, enthusiastic and up-to-date about children’s literature. A good children’s library service is more than a space for books and a place to run story time. It needs to be run and staffed by people with specialist expertise, which is impossible to maintain if they do not have a specialist role within the library”.

GILL WARD,

Senior Librarian, Fortismere School

As a local children's specialist working in a school, the removal of the equivalent in the local library service has already had a short-term impact on children's opportunities in Haringey and I firmly believe will have a long-term impact too. 

I understand that Haringey says the specialists have been retained - this is true. However they have been stripped of their specialist jobs roles and titles, yet expected to still contribute their training and expertise to the service. This is awful. Why should they do so under those conditions?

It seems inefficient to me, to say working with students is a priority, but do this without children's specialists to coordinate and liaise. The Haringey Children's Book Award is also currently running without any input from the public library, since we have no idea where to start. Other public library staff in branches have been helpful since the specialists have been deposed, but this is very varied.

I believe the long-term impact will be dire - without the specialist knowledge and input, public libraries will not be able to serve and enthuse children and young people in the same way, which will then fall partly to school librarians, and partly means children and young people will grow up into adults who will not favour reading and public library use in the same way.

It astounds me that when the major footfall in public libraries in the UK is 0 - 18 year olds, with the Summer Reading Challenge at the centre of this, and with Haringey's Corporate Plan stating one of its major goals to be to "Enable every child and young person to have the best start in life" that the library service would decide to make cuts in the very area which would help."

HELEN SWINYARD,

Ms. Swinyard is a Learning Resources Centre Manager in a Haringey school.

She has asked us to make clear she is not speaking on behalf of her employer.