Four schools will receive a significant number of books donated by Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) after ‘abrupt’ withdrawal of funding for libraries.

The organisation said that schools have struggled to meet their students’ needs in relation to reading materials.

It said that the Department of Education withdrew funding in 2008 of the €2.2m grant for school libraries.

“Many libraries are stocked with dated, tatty, unsuitable books and some newly-built schools with dedicated library spaces have no books on their shelves,” a spokesman said.

“In numerous schools, teachers buy books with their own money, and cannot cater to the needs of students who use English as an additional language or who have learning difficulties.”

But the CBI’s Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries project attempts to address the shortfall by providing a number of donated materials, along with a ‘Patron of Reading’ programme and training for students and staff, worth approximately €40,000.

Four schools in Dublin, Tipperary, Derry and Belfast have been announced as the recipients, with the first library launching today in Dublin by Ryan Tubridy and author Dave Rudden, the school’s new Patron of Reading.

The winners are Gortnahoe National School, Tipperary with Paula Leyden as Patron of Reading; St Paul’s Nursery and Primary School, Derry with Myra Zepf as Patron of Reading; St Genevieve’s High School, Belfast with Sheena Wilkinson as Patron of Reading and St Raphaela’s Secondary School, Dubin with Dave Rudden as Patron of Reading

Each school will receive a library worth almost €8,000, plus a Patron of Reading, training on use of the library, CBI resources and print material to guide students in their future reading.

CBI is also partnering with University College Dublin and the School Library Association in the Republic of Ireland to launch a survey to gather comprehensive research on school libraries and the needs of schools in relation to books.

Elaina Ryan, Director of Children’s Books Ireland said: “We know that many homes do not have books and many families don’t have a culture of reading.

“By failing to support vibrant, well-stocked, well-managed libraries in our schools, our government is denying the children of Ireland their right to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and to an education that affords them the best chances in life. The school libraries survey will show us how best to support schools in need.”

Ryan Tubridy said “I’ve always been a huge believer in the power of books and reading to change lives. The fact that there’s no funding earmarked for schools to buy books or requirement for schools to have a library feels like a missed opportunity as we have such a powerful literary tradition.”

Children’s Books Ireland is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

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