Merton Libraries get children reading for life

Merton Council’s award-winning libraries have launched a new scheme to get every school child in the borough reading.

Launching in five pilot schools this month, the scheme aims to work with local schools to get every schoolchild aged 5-11 years to become a member and regular user of their local library. Starting with Poplar, Lonesome, Cranmer, Joseph Hood and Wimbledon Chase primary schools, the scheme will be piloted and then rolled out to further schools with the aim of signing up all primary school children as library members by April 2014.

Approximately 45% of Merton’s 5-14 year old children are already active users of a Merton library, borrowing a book or using library computers at least once in the last 12 months. The scheme aims to build on that success and engage with primary schools to widen their services to all children.

Differing from pilots launched in other boroughs, Merton’s approach will involve developing relationships with schools, working together to encourage parents and children to sign up as library members and to visit their library to borrow and return books. The premium library cards that are being issued to the school children as part of this scheme will allow five children’s books to be borrowed with all overdue fines waived.

Cabinet member for community and culture, Councillor Nick Draper said: ‘Whenever I visit Merton’s excellent primary schools, I’m really encouraged by our children’s positive attitudes to reading and to libraries. This pilot from Merton’s visionary Library Service is a natural progression, tapping into our children’s enthusiasm and giving them even more opportunities to get involved in Arts & Crafts, music sessions, story-telling and loads of other fun activities. I would encourage their parents to join the library themselves as part of this scheme and enjoy the library experience with their children.’