‘If these materials were unavailable it would make me and the children I teach very sad’ – Daniel’s story

As a primary school teacher who works in a smaller than average village school
nestled within the Wye Valley, I am concerned about the current state and potential
future of libraries. I am particularly worried about the services offered to all young
people, who are expected to make continued progress, academically, year after year
in order to meet educational demands placed upon teachers. I worry that if library
cuts cause the closure of services that are currently offered to schools, the children we
teach will suffer both socially and academically.

The whole experience of a library and actually going into one is something very
special in itself. The notion that you can find something that interests you as an
individual gives you responsibility and allows you to make your own decisions. This
skill is something that is essential to all success – the ability to chose something
and follows your own intuition. I still remember, some 20 years ago now, my first
school visit to the local library. I loved it, the possibilities and potential to learn about
anything. This definitely motivated me to read and want to learn because I was able to
read what I wanted. The visit to the library essentially took me away from the regular
books within my class and gave me a thirst for reading. This is something that I see
now within the children I teach.

I teach an infant class of mixed ages who always get excited and look forward with
great energy to the day that the school library van makes its visit to our tiny village. It
is particularly important to our school, and many other small schools, because we do
not have a school library. Thus making it impossible for children to appreciate what
a library is actually like. My children really enjoy going onto the library van and read
new books that are not stale because they have been in our school for a while due to
spending restrictions that have already been forced upon us. I think their motivation to
read stems from the complete ownership they have for what they chose to take from
the library van. This is so important to education and can help those reluctant first
readers discover a love for reading.

If we lose services such as these, we may well dwindle the potential excitement that
can be instilled in children just by choosing a book from a library van. In addition,
due to the locality of my school we are logistically unable to visit a library. In fact the
nearest library is some 10 miles away, which makes the mobile library services our
only viable option.

I have however been discussing with colleagues from another local small school
about the possibility of visiting our nearest county library. I am worried that if people
sit back and do not use the services they will be reduced, which makes me quite sad
because everyone would be missing out on so much. If there were no local libraries to
visit within our Forest locality or no library vans to visit our remote location it would
significantly affect the learning that I can create.

In sum, the library services offer an invaluable selection of resources, which if used
correctly allow children to prosper in school and enjoy the subjects they are taught
and the books they read. This is especially true for the blue topic boxes, which I
continually order from the schools library service in order to add more excitement to
a given topic. If these materials were unavailable it would make me and the children
I teach very sad. How can we as teachers be expected to raise standards in children if
the standard of resources that we can offer them is significantly reduced?