Threat of closure hanging over school library service

HERTS schools library service is under threat of closure following a proposal to cut the support service because of a funding deficit.

A Herts County Council cabinet panel was today (Wednesday) to consider a recommendation to discontinue the service.

One-third of its income comes from the dedicated schools grant (DSG) centrally retained education budget. But proposed national changes to schools’ funding mean that is unlikely to be available after March 2013.

A report to the cabinet panel said the combined effect of losing income from the DSG and falling figures for schools buying in to the service would make the service unviable to the tune of a predicted �41,000.

If the Herts schools library service did cease trading, local schools could instead purchase services from Essex, Bedfordshire or London boroughs although neighbouring services might charge additional premiums.

The move has angered a librarian at a St Albans school, who said it would have a “catastophic impact on literacy levels” if approved. The librarian, who did not want to be named, said she was concerned as there had been no consultation with users of the service and a decision was “being rushed in at the end of the school term”.

She explained that two-thirds of the budget for the service came from schools buying in to it. But as that had been seen as an area where school libraries could make a saving over the last year, there has been a decrease in the number of subscribers.

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The librarian pointed out that no-one knew that the service was at risk of closure as a result.