CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

HolyroodAye! – Election Watch

As part of our pre-election campaign work we wrote to political parties (who were contesting constituencies and/or all regions) to ask them for a response to our Manifesto. We will now be using the contents of each Manifesto produced by the parties to follow up library and information related issues.

The following responses were received:

1. What steps would your party take to ensure the full implementation of the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland, agreed last year with the Scottish Government and COSLA including


– Taking forward a national reading strategy with libraries at its heart
– Rolling out and sustaining the every child a library member project
– Providing high-speed wifi in all community libraries
– Rolling out a national digital skills programme with shared resources
– Developing local, regional and national partnerships to support employability

Answers:

Scottish Conservatives (This response covers all 4 questions) –

The Scottish Conservatives fully recognise the importance of libraries and associated professionals in contributing to literacy skills and helping promote access to books and information. We support the scheme to sign up every young person with their local library to raise awareness of the services that libraries offer, and it is incumbent on the next Scottish Government to implement the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland as agreed with COSLA. Over the last Parliament we proved ourselves to be a strong opposition and we are hopeful that after this election we will return even more Scottish Conservative MSPs who are ready to hold the new Scottish Government to account on important issues such as this.

It is concerning that skills in literacy (and numeracy) have fallen in our schools over the last five years, and this is true in almost every age group for every assessed skill. Worryingly, some of the biggest reductions have affected the most socio-economically deprived pupils and this is a trend that must be halted and reversed. You might be aware that we published a policy document in January this year called The Gold Standard which made a number of recommendations as to how these key skills can be improved in schools. This included identifying best practice at existing literacy hubs; more support for parental involvement; meeting teachers’ demands to spend more time learning how to teach literacy skills; and a First Minister’s reading challenge in which pupils would be encouraged to read a dozen books in pursuit of a prize. We are pleased that some of these have since been adopted by the Scottish Government.

Additionally, in our manifesto we confirmed our commitment to re-enter Scotland into the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Experts such as Professor Sue Ellis have pointed out that it was this study that found enjoyment of reading by Scottish children was not as strong as in other countries, and improving attitudes towards reading and literacy is absolutely key to driving up standards and promoting the importance of reading.

The Scottish Conservatives are also strongly in favour of schools and teachers having more autonomy and being empowered to make decisions that suit the individual needs of their pupils and communities. This is why we argued that Attainment Challenge Funding should be given directly to head-teachers rather than local authorities and we are pleased that the last Scottish Government listened to this. We would also be more ambitious with Devolved School Management spending to give schools the resources they need to make these decisions. Whilst we are not prescriptive in how this could be used, it would certainly be good to see schools more in control of decisions over their school libraries and staff because of the contribution they make to literacy and research skills.

Furthermore, it is very important that the new Scottish Government and local authorities have a positive and constructive relationship over the next Parliament – at times this has not been the case in the last session and this risks hindering the implementation of policy.

Scottish Green Party –

The Scottish Greens support the implementation of the National Strategy for Public Libraries and support measures to introduce a national reading strategy. Strong reading skills are critical for closing the educational attainment gap and reducing inequality in our communities. We recognise that reading well allows for people to pursue their interests and encourages lifelong learning, and that libraries have a key role to play in this. The “every child a library member” project fits in with our belief in free and universal services and would go a long way to improving the literacy of children from deprived backgrounds.

To take forward the National Strategy, the Scottish Greens would push for high-speed fibre broadband to be available to all communities, allowing for all libraries to be centres for local internet access and digital resources. Whether it’s applying for jobs, joining clubs or local events, finding out about social security, or accessing e-healthcare, people need the skills to participate fully in digital life. We would welcome measures for libraries to deliver key skills and outreach workshops for community members.

We also see small businesses and social enterprises as being at the heart of our economy. We fully support libraries in offering co-working spaces for small businesses and programmes to ensure business owners can access all the support they are entitled to.

We believe that the arts and culture are not luxuries but intrinsically valuable to social wellbeing. We fully encourage the use of libraries as cultural spaces for community workshops, art exhibitions, film screenings and other activities.

Scottish National Party –

The SNP in government worked with SLIC and COSLA to develop and launch the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland.  We have invested £1.4 million to deliver key aspects of the strategy, including £400,000 for wifi to support digital inclusion in community libraries, £80,000 to launch and pilot Every Child a Library Member and £70,000 to support reading, literacy and learning and digital inclusion. We are absolutely committed to taking forward implementation of the strategy if re-elected in May.

We are ensuring that public libraries play a role in our activity to close the attainment gap and improve children’s literacy and numeracy skills. Our Read Write Count campaign aimed at children in P1 to P3 and their families included providing £198,000 to public libraries so they could play a role in their communities, enhancing and adding value to the campaign. There will also be a role for public libraries to play in helping to promote and encourage children to take part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

Libraries don’t just provide access to reading material – they play a crucial role in providing access to IT, improving attainment, supporting children in the early years and empowering communities.  We are committed to working with SLIC, COSLA and other organisations to ensure this role continues and the National Strategy is implemented.

Scottish Labour – 

We support the implementation of the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland.

Local libraries are
a source of inspiration, knowledge and enrichment for communities and are ideally placed to help tackle the attainment gap in our schools. We believe the National Libraries strategy needs to be developed to foster a new ambition for the next generation. We will ask schools to partner with local libraries to give every child a chance to become a member and benefit from the library environment.

We will make the provision of superfast broadband, in islands and rural areas as well as towns and cities, a national infrastructure priority for which we’ll make additional investment to leverage additional funds from other sources. We will invest £100M per year of over the lifetime of the next parliament.

Scottish Liberal Democrats (This response covers all 4 questions) –

Scottish Liberal Democrats have put the future of our education system front and centre in our plans to make Scotland the best again over the next five years. We used to have the best education system in the world, but it is slipping. To be the best again we need to see real investment across the full spectrum of education services, including library and information services. That is why we are committed to a penny for education – putting a penny on each income tax band and using the new powers being given to Scottish Parliament to raise half a billion pounds to invest in education.

Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see nothing short of a transformation of Scottish education with an expansion of early years education, extra funding to provide more classroom support to disadvantaged children, a reversal of the cuts to colleges and councils’ education budgets. We will ensure life-long learning opportunities for everyone in Scotland. In all of this, the provision of good library services will be essential to delivering our vision of a Scotland where everyone is free to reach their potential.

We support the aim of a national reading strategy, are committed to the roll-out of superfast broadband and will act to make more digital learning opportunities available to everyone, including at libraries.

Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to supporting pupils’ literacy and research skills development and recognise the vital role played by school libraries and the professional library and information staff in preparing school pupils for success in later years at work and in further and higher education.

To be the best again we need to deliver a transformation of the education services on which our future prosperity will depend.

RISE – No response received

Solidarity – No response received

UKIP – No response received

2. Does your party believe that all learners in school and further education should have on site access to full time professional library staff and what steps would you take to ensure this happens?

Answers:

Scottish Conservatives – See above

Scottish Green Party –

We believe that education is a right from early years to university. We recognise that our educators are currently working flat out with an unsustainable workload. It is clear that full time professional librarians are critical in supporting teachers and students. Green MSPs would support any motion in Parliament to guarantee all learners access to library staff.

Scottish National Party –

The SNP believes that professional library staff have a role to play in supporting children and young people’s learning, particularly in raising attainment, but also in supporting and enhancing a whole community approach to attainment.  For example, professional staff working alongside parent and community volunteers in school libraries helps to develop knowledge and skills in a sustainable way. If re-elected, the SNP aims to develop a cluster approach to education, from early years right through to higher education.  Public and school libraries have a role to play in that and in government, and we would be keen to explore how we can ensure children and young people have access to professional staff in libraries as part of that approach.

Scottish Labour – 

It’s vitally important that learners across all levels of education have access to well-resourced and accessible libraries. In government, we would look to work closely with CILIPS and other stakeholders to ensure that access to professional staff in libraries continues and is improved.

Scottish Liberal Democrats – See above

RISE – No response received

Solidarity – No response received

UKIP – No response received

3. Would your party agree to support development of a new national strategy for school libraries which recognises their vital role in supporting pupils’ literacy and research skills?

Answers:

Scottish Conservatives – See above

Scottish Green Party –

School libraries are important for continuing to develop pupils’ literacy and research skills, and can support the transition into further and higher education. School libraries are also important for closing the attainment gap for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, ensuring all pupils have access to a wide range of free resources. The Scottish Greens would support the development of a new national strategy for school libraries.

Scottish National Party –

The SNP recognises the important role school libraries play in helping to enable children to read well, as well as encouraging children to grow up with a love of reading.  Accessing the library also enhances information literacy skills and improves access to knowledge.  In government we have supported SLIC to promote the value of libraries across all sectors and to provide vital leadership to the sector.  Key to this are the quality standards developed by SLIC for both public and school library services.

Looking ahead, school libraries will continue to have an important role to play in helping to achieve our ambitions to raise attainment for all children, and close the attainment gap between children from the most and least deprived communities. We have encouraged local authorities to make full use of school libraries in this work and would continue to advocate for this.  While we are happy to support the development of a new strategy for school libraries and be involved in contributing to that, it’s more appropriate for the work to be led by SLIC and COSLA, rather than the Scottish Government.

Scottish Labour – 

School libraries are hugely important to open up opportunities to children. It encourages reading and is somewhere where they can develop IT skills. We would work with SLIC to help them promote libraries and the important role they play in improving literacy and ultimately tackling the attainment gap. We would therefore welcome the development of a new strategy for school libraries and would provide appropriate support.

Scottish Liberal Democrats – See above

RISE – No response received

Solidarity – No response received

UKIP – No response received

4. In what ways would you work more closely with Local Government to ensure that all libraries are fully supported?

Answers:

Scottish Conservatives – See above

Scottish Green Party –

There must be adequate funding, and there must also be political support.  The Scottish Greens believe that the long-term solution to funding libraries lies in fair reforms to local taxation to reverse cuts to local authority budgets. Our local tax proposals would see the outdated council tax replaced with a fairer property tax, raising an additional £331m for local government to invest in public services. Our proposals for reforming the local tax system would provide councils with much needed funds to help secure the long-term future of libraries and expand their services.  It is possible for local authorities to have better resources, but to choose not to support libraries or any other service to the extent we would wish.  While we accept the proper role of local authorities in determining local priorities, we would nevertheless seek to give a strong steer both at national and at local level that libraries should be supported.

Scottish National Party –

The SNP believes everyone should have access to library services.  A straw poll of everyone in the room while these answers were being compiled found that the vast majority of people used their local library regularly when they were children but only a handful still used it as adults.  There is clearly more for us all to do to promote the value and usefulness of libraries in terms of providing access to IT, digital skills, community resources, information and of course, books to our adult population.  The more everyone uses local libraries, the more they make their own case to be supported.

However, local government has clear statutory obligations in relation to provision of library services. We therefore believe that any proposed library closure should be fully consulted upon and considered carefully.  In government, the SNP has encouraged local authorities to work with communities to explore new ways of delivering services. The new National Strategy for Public Libraries provides an appropriate framework to enable this and we would continue to support its implementation to not just maintain but develop library services, if re-elected in May.

Scottish Labour – 

Because of our choices on tax, we can commit to properly funding local government.

We need to do more to promote the use of libraries in local communities and we would encourage local authorities to work with communities so they get the services they want and need. We don’t want to see closures, but any are proposed then local communities should be consulted fully.

Scottish Liberal Democrats – See above

RISE – No response received

Solidarity – No response received

UKIP – No response received