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A Survey of Library Services to Schools and Children in the UK 2004-05

2003–04 edition   2005–06 edition      

This is LISU’s sixteenth 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. With direct funding from schools now the norm in England, pressure on school budgets has affected schools library services, and the percentage of LEA pupils served overall continues to fall. While many services have successfully marketed themselves in the new climate, some have not. Seven have closed between 1999-2000 and 2003-4, and two more closed during the 2004-5 year. Those services which remain are developing new and innovative strategies to support both schools and other groups, with a diverse range of loan and advisory services, and new collaborations being instigated.

While more than half of the nation's children are thought to be public library members, only around one-third actively use the library to borrow books. Again, there is a diverse range of activities and services being developed to cater for children individually and in groups, and children's satisfaction with their local library is high. There are notable differences between the public library 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. 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. A supplement is also available, reproducing the main tables of the report organised for eight of the English Government Office Regions (London is included as a unit in the main report, as are the three home countries).

Main publication

Download full report (pdf 3.1MB)

Download individual parts of the report below:

Contents, list of tables, figures and acknowledgements (pdf 248KB)

Section 1 (pdf 148KB)
 Executive summary
 Summary of trends 1999-2000 to 2004-05
 Notes on the survey
 Materials funds

Section 2 Staffing (pdf 604KB)
 Heads of service
 Professional staff
 Staff details
 Estimates of total professional staff

Section 3 Public library services to children (pdf 1.2MB)
 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 424KB)
 A: Population figures
 B: Comments on staffing structures
 C: Details from SLS survey
 D: Public library services to children questionnaire
 E: Schools library services questionnaire
 F: List of non-respondents
 G: Local government reorganisation

Regional supplement

Download full report (pdf 1.2MB)

Download individual parts of the report below:

Contents, acknowledgements and introduction (pdf 234KB)

Staffing: Tables 2.1 to 2.4 (pdf 315KB)

Public library services to children: Tables 3.1 to 3.14 (pdf 514KB)

Schools library services: Tables 4.1 to 4.16 (pdf 368KB)

Appendix: A.1 Population (pdf 115KB)


Authors: Claire Creaser and Sally Maynard
Main report: ISBN 1901786943 - ISSN 1353-3118
pp 323 A4 - £32.50
Regional supplement: ISBN 1901786951
pp 156 A4
Published December 2005


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