Laureate na nÓg Siobhán Parkinson has welcomed the announcement from Minister of Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan that the school librarians in disadvantaged schools will be retained.
Speaking today Siobhán said
“I am delighted that librarians running libraries in second-level schools in the most deprived areas of the country will, after all, thanks to the intervention of the Minister for Education, have their contracts renewed. This is not about individuals and their jobs, but about our children and their future, and about Ireland achieving the literacy standards it so desperately needs in order to participate in the knowledge economy.
These JCSP libraries, as they are called, are a precious resource for the future of our nation. If we could now revisit the primary school library service with the same can-do, creative energy, we would be well on our way to creating a literate and culturally aware population for the future of our economy and our democracy.
The decision to retain specialist librarians in the JCSP schools is so enlightened, that it gives me hope for the primary system also. Books for primary school libraries used to be funded by a grant to public libraries. These funds from government were in effect matched by the public libraries in terms of staffing and expertise, and this system represented an excellent use of public funds to acquire thoughtfully chosen books for our primary schools. Today, funding for school library books is included in the capitation grant, which means that school libraries have to compete with other demands on the school budget.
I sincerely hope that this decision regarding the JCSP librarians will pave the way for increased resources for school libraries everywhere.”