Government launches Literacy Action Plan

The Scottish Government published its long-awaited Literacy Action Plan on Wednesday 27th October. It seeks to outline the next steps to further raise standards of literacy from early years through to adult learning. The Literacy Action Plan has its roots in the Literacy Commission set up by the Labour Party nearly 2 years ago and cross-arty support secured in a literacy debate held in the Scottish Parliament in January. The Plan is timely and does mention libraries as partners but disappointingly fails to reflect the extensive influence which all sorts of libraries can have on literacy; and the fragile position for many services as they wait for the impact of the Spending Review to emerge.

The Plan acknowledges the vicious web of connection between low literacy, poor health, poverty, unemployment and levels of participation in society and democracy. It sets a vision ‘to raise standards of literacy for all from the early years to adulthood’. Libraries have made significant progress in successfully delivering, with partners Scottish Book Trust, the original Bookstart, now the BookBug programme, integrating its objectives with existing Books for Babies, storytimes and Bounce and Tickle events. South Lanarkshire Libraries describe the impact well. The next stage of school and Curriculum for Excellence widens the involvement of the profession beyond public libraries to include school and college library professionals. Have a look at content on Glow or from CILIPS conferences to see the ways in which libraries can link their activities to the literacy outcomes.

In the sections on inclusion and adults, libraries reach across the age and ability range and work in partnership libraries to support literacy development with free books, information and learning. The Scottish Premier League Reading Stars links the Big Plus, libraries and Premier League sides to promote reading in a very successful partnership and the Evaluation Report shows the impact on reading.

Libraries work effectively and creatively with partners to offer opportunities for family learning and family activities like story and rhyme times; activities and programmes to encourage children and young people to enjoy libraries and reading in schools, colleges and communities; and activities and programmes to encourage adults to enjoy libraries and reading like reading groups, authors visits and book festivals. It seems all too brief to shorthand all this into ‘local libraries’ in the Literacy Action Plan but hopefully as the Standing Literacy Commission starts to report its findings, the contribution of libraries will be more widely recognised.

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