The ‘rescue operation’ of school libraries in Catalonia will begin this September with a pilot plan in 50 centers

The bleak picture drawn by the data from the latest PIRLS, the international study for the Progress of Reading Comprehension, which places Catalonia in an alarming position at the bottom of Spain (and the OECD), is received in colleges and institutes with another worrisome situation: neglect, and in many cases absencefrom a school library. In fact, according to the latest figures from the Ministry, more than 40% of Catalan centers do not have a school library, despite being required by law.

For try break that dynamic and subtract strength from what seems like a perfect storm, the Department of Education finalizes the details of a School Libraries Improvement Plan under the National Book and Reading Plan that will start next September -this course 23-24- with a pilot plan two years that will take place in 50 educational centers primary and secondary education in 5 of the 10 existing Territorial Services. A plan that, to begin with, will have a specific team of six librarians: a coordinator and five professionals who will share the territorywith a ratio of 10 schools per librarian.

The initiative [largamente reivindicada por el sector desde hacía años] also includes “training for teachers, recognition of the figure of the library coordinator [una de las grandes demandas] and the expansion of the fund of the Ebiblio”.

“Where there is a robust and well-resourced school library program, better academic results are produced”

According to Department sources, who do not specify the total investment in the plan, but assure that It is included in the 2023 budgets, this includes 2,000 euros per year for renewal of the library fund of participating centers (i.e., 4,000 euros per center).

How will the centers be chosen?

The selection of the 50 schools and institutes who will participate in the plan will be made via inspection. will choose centers that already have a library: both a physical space (many centers have given it up due to lack of classrooms) and a fund; and will work with them to give it life and introduce it into the dynamics of the center, the key to success. “Where there is a robust school library program (BE) and with resources, better academic results are produced”, say sources from the ‘conselleria’, who also point out that the academic level of the students improves in centers with a librarian involved; and? cooperation between library and teacher contributes to higher student performance. And they go further: “BE is an essential tool at a time when The school is immersed in a process of transformation“, they stand out.

“Second Crown”

Another important element in the choice of the 50 centers of the plan is that the center have desire -and strength- to join. Once the 50 centers of the plan have been chosen, from the Department indicate that they will open a second crown, for which there will be a public call. These centers will not receive advice “so direct and personalized“like the 50 in the plan, but they will be able to access some of the resources that are being made for them. “Beyond promoting reading, the library is a space for creation and learning, closely linked to the new curricula”, they defend from the ‘conselleria’.

Parallel to the ‘rescue plan’ -one of the seven measures to try to react to lousy results in reading comprehensionSpecially in most vulnerable environments– Another of the actions is the elaboration of a guide with a clear model about how they should be school librarieswhich is in line with what has been stated (being a key agent in the application of the new competency curricula) and will be the path that the 50 centers of the plan will begin.

Questions on the table

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Music sounds good to educational researchers and librarians, though there are important doubts (and logical) on the table. The first is the fear that pilot schemes are being abused, measures that, in practice, reach a very small segment of the population. “Is about an expensive measure and you have to test if it works on a small scale to be able to later scale it to all the centers”, respond from the ‘conselleria’, who are reluctant to figure out the investment (“we will do it in July, when the whole of the National Book and Reading Planthey defend).

The second, closely related to the first, is that without a clear investmentpowerful and universal behind, the document with a clear model on how the libraries and their functions should be, can remain in a well-intentioned declaration of intent.