All around the country public libraries are closing. Cuts in council spending are steadily increasing, and although local authorities have a statutory duty ‘to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons’ in the area, libraries are really feeling the hit.
Studies suggest that the number of adults visiting public libraries has fallen by almost a third over the last decade, with an approximate £25m hit to its budgets in 2016 alone.
With such stark figures, one cannot help but wonder how this may be felt on a personal level, particularly when it comes to our children’s literacy.
Can we fill this gap with technology?
The benefits of using a library
Many believe that the the cuts libraries are facing are unavoidable sacrifices. Some even go as far to suggest that libraries are now redundant.
But many (including us!) believe that libraries offer huge benefits to everyone who use them, but in particular children.
The most significant function of the library is of course the huge array of books that they house. Princesses, pirates, fairy tales or superheroes- there’s nothing you can’t find within the shelves! Children have the luxury of browsing through at their leisure, making their own choices.
The library also stocks a huge amount of non-fiction texts which, as mentioned in a previous blog, are really beneficial in building up a child’s reading comprehension. If a child doesn’t like to read traditional fiction, or has a particular interest in a subject, then hey presto- the information they seek is at their finger tips!
Without spatial limitations, the library houses as many books as a child could need at every stage of their reading journey. And with no limit on how many times a child can borrow a book, they can work at improving their own understanding of the text as often as they wish.
And, with recent studies conducted by the Oxford University suggesting that reading books can improve a person’s life chances, the importance of maintaining these facilities becomes crucial!
2. Extra support
Learning to read is a process that requires the help and support of an adult. Children will need both guidance and encouragement for them to grow as readers, and often having an adult’s feedback can really inspire them to continue with their work.
With growing class sizes and an increasingly busy home life, finding the right amount of time to support a child with their reading can be difficult or rushed.
The staff at the library can make a difference here. By offering a further layer of support in many ways, ranging from rhyme-time classes for preschoolers to seasonal reading events throughout the year, the presence of an extra adult with specific training and experience can be invaluable source of feedback.
3. A positive shared environment
The library offers a positive space for children to talk about their reading with their friends, parents, teachers and other adults. The environment is focused, friendly and dedicated to literacy. By really ‘zoning’ into reading and books with such a high level of positive reinforcement, improvements in ability and enthusiasm are inevitable.
We like to think that by offering a child a focused and positive space (and this could of course be a digital one!) dedicated to books, a child’s reading will thrive.
Are these attributes transferable to the digital age?
If one day we lost all of our beloved libraries, could tech fill that void?
Of course we are biased here at The Listening Bookshop, but we really do believe that in this digital age, tech can help offer the child a virtual library.
We’ve tried really hard to ensure our bookshop offers the same benefits as a library does! We would love to hear what you guys think about this subject – do you still use your local library? How do you use yours? Let us know!