In advance of Budget 2024, the Board of CONUL has written to the Minister of Education in support of Children’s Books Ireland’s ‘Right To Be A Reader’ Campaign, urging the government to provide sustained funding for school libraries in Budget 2024 and beyond. As Library directors of third-level and research institutions, we see the direct benefits of developing a lifelong love of reading from an early age.
Whilst we note that schools welcomed a €20m investment in school libraries in 2022, they are still operating with a scarcity mindset following over a decade without sustained funding for their libraries.
With 43% of Irish families reporting that they have fewer than 30 children’s books at home, and only 15% of the Irish population of any age signed up as public library members, it is clear that the only way to equitably meet the needs of all students is through properly funded school primary and secondary school libraries, staffed by a qualified librarian.
This year we hope that the government will change this. Investing €20m in Budget 2024 in books for children and young people to read for pleasure, building on the foundations laid in Budget 2022, will support learning and education, and can open up a lifetime of possibility and excitement for children.
We encourage the government to stand behind school libraries as we approach Budget 2024.