Library investment key to helping children catch up

The Local Government Association has claimed that investing in libraries is key to driving the national recovery from coronavirus and enabling children to catch up on lost learning.

Research shows that libraries have a vital role to play in helping to build back the country following the pandemic with many already supporting children to recover from missed classroom time and helping to plug the widening attainment gap.

Providing telephone support to families receiving laptops for home schooling, virtual library services and online reading groups form some of the work libraries have been undertaking. Many libraries are also supporting plans for an enhanced Summer Reading Challenge which will include a range of free online activities, games and fun videos to supplement children’s reading skills.

With all council-owned library buildings first closing in March 2020 after the introduction of lockdown measures, libraries adapted very quickly to provide services digitally, in particular increasing residents’ access to e-books and audiobooks.

As a result, library services reported a 600 per cent increase in access to e-books and downloads for some libraries in the early months of lockdown, with the trend continuing over the last year.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Libraries can play a key role in our national recovery from Covid-19, supporting local communities, and in particular helping children catch up on lost education, and supporting adults to retrain through jobs and skills advice.

“They are a fantastic resource for local areas which is why they need the necessary investment to remain open and continue the great work they already do in the long-term. Our libraries have worked hard to adapt to new ways of providing services throughout the past year and remain one of the few free cultural and educational services available in every part of the country. They will also be crucial to our ambitions for addressing imbalances between our towns and cities.”

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