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A Survey of Library Services to Schools and Children in the UK 2003-04

2004–05 edition   2005–06 edition

This is LISU’s fifteenth annual report on the provision and use of public library services to schools and children. The series is an invaluable management tool for both public and schools library services, allowing comparison and benchmarking against other authorities and the wider national picture.

The picture for schools library services is a mixed one, with some areas clearly faring better than others. The last ten years have seen a number of organisational changes which have fragmented services and changed their funding basis, particularly in England. Despite that, only four services have closed within the last five years. There is also a continuing fall in many areas in the percentage of pupils served by schools library services. Much of this is due to pressure on school budgets, and while many services have successfully marketed themselves in the new climate, some have not, and remain under threat of closure. This fall has led to apparent improvement in the operational statistics for schools library services, as expenditure and stock per pupil served has increased. However, staff numbers in the service continue to fall, and it seems likely that the fall in pupils served this year may lead to a reduction in activity next year.

Specialist staff numbers are also falling in the public library service for children, and there is a real decline in issues which must give cause for concern. There are also notable differences between sectors both in the overall level of service activity and in the trends over the last five years. The picture is not a particularly optimistic one for any sector, however. Variations are only to be expected in the trends for individual library services as circumstances dictate, however, the degree of variation observed on a sector-wide scale raises concerns over the longer term management and strategic planning of both schools library services and the public library service for children.

The report gives a summary of trends in both services over the last five years; examines the role and numbers of staff working with children; considers service provision, resources and expenditure in public library services to children; and details service provision, financial arrangements and use of schools library services. Detailed tables are given listing the information provided by each authority and service, and estimates for the overall position in the UK are included in the commentary. For the first time this year, a supplement is available, reproducing the main tables of the report organised for eight of the English Government Office Regions (London is included in the main report, as are the three home countries).

Main publication

Download full report (pdf 3MB)

Download individual parts of the report below:

Contents, list of tables, figures and acknowledgements (pdf 20KB)

Section 1 (pdf 100KB)
 Executive summary
 Summary of trends 1998-99 to 2003-04
 Materials funds

Section 2 Staffing (pdf 516KB)

Section 3 Public library services to children (pdf 1.3MB)
 Service provision
 Users and user surveys

Section 4 Schools library services (pdf 1.2MB)
 Introduction and contextual information
 Population and schools served
 Stock and its use
 Service quality

Appendices (pdf 376KB)
 A: Population figures
 B: Comments on staffing structures
 C: Public library services to children questionnaire
 D: Schools library services questionnaire
 E: List of non-respondents
 F: Local government reorganisation

Regional supplement

Download full report (pdf 1.9MB)

Download individual parts of the report below:

Contents, acknowledgements and introduction (pdf 148KB)

Staffing: Tables 2.1 to 2.4 (pdf 376KB)

Public library services to children: Tables 3.1 to 3.14 (pdf 872KB)

Schools library services: Tables 4.1 to 4.15 (pdf 928KB)

Appendix: A.1 Population (pdf 148KB)


Authors: Claire Creaser and Sally Maynard
Main report: ISBN 1901786773 - ISSN 1353-3118
pp 298 A4 - £32.50
Regional supplement: ISBN 1901786900
pp 145 A4
Published December 2004


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