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Minister Foley Announces €20 Million School Library Book Grant

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has announced a €20 million for school library book grant will be provided to recognised primary and post-primary schools for the purchase of books, audio books and other media for the purposes of improving their existing literacy resource banks.

This €20 million fund will be paid to schools in the coming weeks and is additional to that already given for the school books rental scheme.

Minister Foley said, “a love of reading is one the greatest gifts we can give a child. It is of utmost importance that we provide access to the highest quality books in all our schools. They enable our students to go on magical journeys, experience new ideas and open their minds to infinite possibilities. In doing so reading assists in the development of language and literacy skills. It is said that books are uniquely portable magic and I firmly believe that reading opens up a world of imagination and endless possibilities; taking the reader to places they have never been, provoking curiosity, wonder and discussion.”

“As a teacher, I know well the value to our students of reading widely, and I have been determined that we invest in our school literacy resources. With this initiative we can ensure that schools and our students have access to the highest quality books and materials to support their literacy.”

“Considerable progress has been made in promoting a high level of literacy since the 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and Interim Review 2017. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 results showed that the reading skills of primary school children in Ireland, both in the paper based and online assessment are among the best in all European and OECD countries. It is important to build on this good work and ensure that these high standards are maintained.”

“Schools will receive excellent and expert support from Public Library Supports for Schools, to help spend their grant funding to meet needs of their students. I look forward to seeing our students in reading nooks and libraries all over Ireland, enjoying a great read.”

The grant is to be paid to schools based on pupil numbers at the same rate for all schools, primary and post-primary. The Department will also send a guidance note to all schools, with support from the libraries service, on how schools can best use the funding received.

Public libraries already provide a range of supports for school under the Public Library Supports for Schools jointly agreed by the Department of Education and the Department of Rural and Community Development. Public libraries will support the roll-out of the School Library Book Grant through the provision of additional measures and resources, in two steps.

Step one will consist of webinars open to representatives of primary and post-primary schools.

The initial webinars will be held in May and will focus on the practical process of selecting a meaningful book collection for each school, including reading lists developed by libraries and Children’s Books Ireland and a section on library services supporting schools, emphasising the benefits of class visits, the range of services available, including classroom sets, teachers resources and online resources.

A second set of webinars will take place at the start of the next school year, focusing on maximising the new collection, again linking into library services and the much broader range of resources libraries can offer to support.

In step two, each library service will communicate with the schools within its area, outlining the levels of supports that the individual library service can provide locally, based on local resources. This will begin in the coming school year.

Colette Byrne, Kilkenny County Council Chief Executive and Chair of the LGMA Libraries Development Committee said, “the grant funding from the Department of Education will provide access to more and better reading opportunities for children and young adults, across all school-going ages and reading abilities.”

“Public libraries have a long tradition of providing a wide range of resources, activities and expertise which strongly support primary and post primary schools in developing children’s literacy, numeracy, creativity and communication skills. In order to ensure that this grant funding delivers the best possible reading and personal development outcomes for the students, the public library service is now making additional, specifically tailored support measures and resources available to schools.”

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland said, “children’s Books Ireland is ready to support schools as they build up their libraries with books that are contemporary, engaging and representative of their students. Working closely with public libraries, we hope that our downloadable purchasing lists, webinars and resource packs will ensure that all schools are well informed and get the best books for their students with this grant.”

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