School library support service axed in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 17:23 13 December 2011 | UPDATED: 17:28 13 December 2011

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FUNDING for a loss-making school library support service has been pulled by Hertfordshire County Council.

The Schools Library Service (SLS) provides facilities, including mobile services, books and specialist resources, to libraries at educational establishments.

Currently, nearly half of all county primary schools and a third of secondary schools have an annual subscription.

Many more are signed to a pay-as-you-use service.

On Wednesday, the council’s libraries cabinet panel voted 8-3 to scrap the service – estimated to lose £41,000 next year.

Its recommendation is due to be rubberstamped by the cabinet on Monday.

The SLS will be axed in the spring.

Cllr Chris Hayward, cabinet member for libraries, said: “The provision of school libraries has always been the responsibility of individual schools.

“The library service offers expert advice and support to schools on a traded basis, and it is expected to cover its costs.

“In recent years, fewer and fewer schools have been buying into the service.

“This means that, despite restructuring in 2010, the service is running at a deficit and is no longer viable.”

Cllr Hayward said schools would still be able to buy materials direct from suppliers and publishers, and use existing networks and partnerships to share resources.

“No school library should close as a result of this decision,” he added.

All three Lib Dems on the panel voted against the cuts.

Cllr Paul Goggins siad a scaled-down service could have remained, and run for at least another year.

He said: “The estimated loss this year was £41,000 – less than a sixth of the staff costs.

“We could have reduced the current number of staff – 12 – and made every effort to persuade more schools to buy into the service.”

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