No reprieve for Hertfordshire’s axed school library service

AN axed school library support service will not get a last-minute reprieve, despite efforts by a user group.

Hertfordshire County Council agreed to pull funding on the loss-making Schools Library Service (SLS) before Christmas.

The SLS provides facilities, including mobile services, books and specialist resources, to libraries at schools either through an annual subscription or a pay-as-you-use service.

Following the decision, user group We Heart Libraries had written to the county council to plead for a change of heart.

The matter was subsequently discussed at a council scrutiny meeting yesterday (Wednesday) – but councillors decided to not take any further action.

It means the SLS – which was estimated to lose �41,000 next year – will cease in March as planned.

Andy Darley, co-founder of We Heart Libraries, said: “I looked for arguments that might suggest why it would be worth accepting a loss for a year, so they can find a way of working with schools, and maybe gain something of value.

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“It was all decided by the council really quickly, and many didn’t know it was happening.

“The least we can hope for is they will take what comments they can from it.”

The committee was asked to consider two other options; undertaking a whole committee scrutiny, or establishing a topic group to undertake it.

A county council spokesman said: “As the decision to discontinue the support services we provide to school libraries has already been debated as part of the panel process, councillors decided not to put this matter on their work programme for scrutiny.”

Nearly half of all primary schools in the county and a third of secondary schools have an annual subscription to the SLS.

Many more are signed on the pay-as-you-use basis.