Acclaimed children’s author Michael Morpurgo has written to Hertfordshire Council in a bid to save the schools’ library services.
Herts Schools Library Services, which provides books, resources and professional support to schools, is set to close in the New Year following a council decision.
Morpurgo, a former Children’s Laureate who was born in St. Albans, wrote to Hertfordshire council hoping the letter will be read out at a meeting on Monday, before the decision is ratified.
He wrote: “Every year I come to Hertfordshire to talk to your children about writing, to try to inspire them to find their own writing voice, and to encourage them to read.”
“I tell them that reading is an essential avenue to fulfillment not merely for them as writers but as human beings, as citizens. So I know on the ground what a wonderful job the Schools Library Service does, not only in Hertfordshire, to bring books to children and children to books.”
He ended with a plea, calling himself “a Hertfordshire lad, who learnt to care about reading in Hertfordshire, in Radlett, over 60 years ago, asking you to continue to do your best for the children of Hertfordshire today, to make them your priority.”
Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, responded to the news of the services’ closure: “We are very shocked and saddened.
This is a bitter blow to the hundreds of schools and thousands of children who benefit from the support of this service.”
Chris Hayward, Cabinet Member for Libraries, said: “The Hertfordshire Local and Libraries Cabinet Panel has recommended to Cabinet that we discontinue the support services we provide to school libraries from 31 March 2012.
“In recent years, fewer and fewer schools have been buying into the service - only a third of secondary schools and 43 per cent of primary schools now choose to buy in, with others finding alternative provision.
"This means that, despite restructuring in 2010, the service is running at a deficit and is no longer viable."