What's new

Wednesday, 27 September, 2017

We are delighted to announce that the new national School Library Award is now up and running and SLSs are invited to sign up to administer it in their local authority.


The Award is the first of three potential offers that SLSs might offer individually across the country in due course to help increase both income and reach into schools.

There is no charge to download the necessary paperwork to administer the SLS-UK School Library Award*, however there are terms and conditions to which the SLS Manager will need to agree. However there is no obligation on any SLS to do so - all the offers will be undertaken voluntarily.


Full details and links to documentation are on the ASCEL members website SLS-UK School Library Award

An introduction is also available on the  public website.

*It is designated as "SLS-UK" as this is the term we are using to denote all the SLSs in the ASCEL umbrella and it is a convenient nation-wide label, but it has no status as a brand.

Friday, 26 May, 2017

Developing a Children and Young People’s strand of the Universal Health Offer

A report by The Reading Agency on behalf of ASCEL (the Association of Senior Children’s & Education Librarians) & launched today (26/05/2017).


The Universal Health Offer is a strategy which expresses the public library contribution to the positive health and wellbeing of local communities.  It is delivered by the Society of Chief Librarians, in partnership with The Reading Agency and is funded by Arts Council England as one of the five Universal Offers available in English public libraries.

Research for the report looked at the key priorities of leading health bodies, including Public Health England, NHS England, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal Society of Public Health and included interviews with representatives from health organisations.

The report states that there is clear potential for public libraries to support the health and wellbeing of children and young people in their local communities and recommends areas of focus for public libraries divided by age category, early years (pre-birth/0-4 years), children (5-11 years) and young people (11-18 years).

Sue Ball, national Chair of ASCEL said, “We are delighted with this report as going forward the recommendations will help to shape local public library health offers for children & young people & their families.”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency said, “We’re really excited to be working with ASCEL and SCL on a children and young people’s strand of the Public Library Health Offer.  The report shows there is enormous potential to extend the health work of libraries in this area building on the success of the Reading Well for young people scheme, which is already supporting young people’s wellbeing through expert endorsed reading available in public libraries.”

Julie Spencer MBE, Head of Library and Museum Services, Bolton, said, “On behalf of the Society of Chief Librarians I would like to endorse the importance of this report.  It identifies priorities which will help to extend and shape a coordinated approach to delivering children’s and young people’s health and well-being activity across public libraries. These recommendations will give a welcome extra dimension to the Public Library Health Offer reflecting current health policy and commissioning concerns and underlining the benefits our work brings to local communities.”


To support library staff in conversations with stakeholders and partners about how libraries support the health and wellbeing of children and young people ASCEL have developed these Ten Key Messages


Health & Wellbeing  - Examples of good practice, June 2017 Spreadsheet compiled by Emma Fisher  of South Gloucestershire Libraries for ASCEL


Additional information:

The Society of Chief Librarians leads and manages public libraries in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.  It is made up of the head of every library authority and advocates for continuous improvement of the public library service on behalf of local people.  www.goscl.com  

ASCEL is the national network of senior managers in Children’s Public and Schools Library Services. Their aim is to lead excellence in library services for children and young people and schools so that every child and young person visiting a public library should be inspired by an exciting environment which makes reading for pleasure irresistible and every school has access to a high quality school library service.  www.ascel.org.uk 

The Reading Agency is the leading charity inspiring people of all ages and all backgrounds to read for pleasure and empowerment.  Working with partners, their aim is to make reading accessible to everyone.  The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council. www.readingagency.org.uk 

The Universal Offers for Public Libraries were launched in 2013 by The Society of Chief Librarians.  They cover five key areas which library customers and partners see as essential to a 21st century library service.  They are Health, Reading, Digital, Information and Learning.

Tuesday, 7 March, 2017



On 27th February, the 10 Bridge Organisations, representatives from public library services across the country and national library partners came together at the Library of Birmingham in an event hosted by ASCEL to discuss the role of libraries in supporting local cultural development for children and young people.

Colleagues from Bridges and ASCEL in the North West and West Midlands shared their excellent practice. Nicky Morgan also updated on the Arts Council development and MetaValue joined with Neil Macinnes. President of the Society of Chief Librarians, to update on the development of the new cultural offer for libraries. The day closed with a celebration of poetry and words from John Dougherty.


All the presentaions from the day are now available to download:

The Public Library Culture Offer

Neil MacInnes: President SCL & Strategic Lead - Libraries, Galleries and Culture Manchester City Council with Selena Bolingbroke and Chris Hayes - Metavalue


Libraries and Cultural Education Partnerships\ Cultural Education Challenge & Notes

Nicky Morgan: Senior Manager Children and Young People - Arts Council England


Good practice example 1

Stewart Parsons - Curious Minds & Kathryn Boothroyd - St Helens Libraries


Good practice example 2: A Place Free of Judgement & Video

Susan Goodwin - Arts Connect


Tuesday, 6 December, 2016

ASCEL (The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians) welcomes Ambition and the recognition of libraries in the lives of children and young people.

The document provides advice and support, a direction of travel for public libraries, ideas and good case studies.

It is good to see recognition of the many children and young people’s programmes we are involved in and recognition of the work ASCEL is doing.

The report identifies that The Children’s Promise, alongside the Six Steps Promise underpins the Universal Offers and we would urge the Taskforce to ensure that children’s interests are also strongly recognised in Ambition’s 7 outcomes.

We are delighted that ASCEL’s Autism Friendly Libraries initiative is highlighted in the report. ASCEL is also currently working on the following initiatives that support the universal offers and the Ambition outcomes - Children’s Library Journeys – developing a national  library framework for parents-to-be, working with The Reading Agency (TRA) and the Universal Health offer to develop an articulation and evidence base for the impact of libraries on children’s health and well-being, working on an outcomes framework based on the Arts Council  7 Quality Principles to demonstrate the powerful  impact  of library rhyme times and working with Bridge Organisations to develop a national strategy  for libraries’ role within local  Cultural  Education Partnerships.   ASCEL, working in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians, BookTrust, TRA and the Publishers Association are also driving ahead the  reading for pleasure strand of the new National Reading Strategy launched in November 2016 as part of Read On Get on ensuring that the fundamental role libraries play in reading for pleasure is centre staged.

ASCEL supports the Libraries First approach and the advocacy alongside this.  We believe libraries can be central to the lives of local communities and are particularly essential for families who may otherwise be isolated and unable to access services and cultural experiences.  Libraries are beginning strong and exciting shared and integrated offers with other children’s services providers, for example Children’s Centres and children and family health providers.

ASCEL welcomes the 7 design principals.  It is really helpful to have those made explicit and particularly the recognition that there is value in integrating national initiatives and programmes with the flexibility to respond to local need.

ASCEL also welcomes the opportunity for libraries to test pilot innovative and exciting projects by applying to the new Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone innovation fund.

We are encouraged by a focus on improved data and evidence gathering. This is desperately needed and needs to reflect the transforming role of libraries – not just the traditional roles.  We would also like to ensure there is a focus on impact and outcomes measurements to support articulation of the work we do and the value of libraries in people’s lives.

 Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021 (1/12/2016)  Read the full report 

Monday, 14 November, 2016

Chair's report to the AGM delivered at ASCEL Conference 11 November 2016

Monday, 3 October, 2016

To celebrate the BBC's #LovetoRead campaign, libraries in the UK are asking their staff and customers to complete a poll to find the books they love and think everyone should read.

The poll is open from 3rd October to 30th November.

Vote now from the SCL website


On the weekend of 5/6th November all libraries will be taking part in the "This book makes me..." selfie activity. Pick a book and an emoticon and post on Twitter, with the hashtag #LovetoRead.



Monday, 19 September, 2016

The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) are developing the library offer for parents-to-be.

Following the January 2014 report into the Automatic Library Membership Pilots evaluation (Siddall 2014) presented by Arts Council England (ACE), a key finding was that “the principle of having a library card is an important first step. But issuing a library card in itself does not create active library members. The accompanying outreach activities and library events were important factors in making membership real”.

ASCEL was commissioned on behalf of ACE and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) to undertake research to identify what those interactions should be and to present recommendations for a deliverable but innovative library offer.

This work consisted of:

  • ASCEL commissioning a freelance Cultural and Audience Development Consultant to research key interactions in a child’s library/reading life that are delivered in libraries across the country, the impact of this practice and the role of partners.  She also explored the interactions libraries would like to deliver and the barriers and gaps. Children's Library Journey Report
  • A Children’s Library Journey seminar in February 2015 with ASCEL and partners, including representatives from the Youth Libraries Group, BookTrust, the National Literacy Trust and The Reading Agency. 

A key recommendation from both the research and the seminar was to develop the library offer at the pre-natal to birth stage – promoting the benefits of reading and library use to parents and supporting and promoting parental and children’s reading journeys. 

The funding from ACE and the Society of Chief Librarians is enabling ASCEL to take this work further and develop a tool kit that will support library staff in their work with parents at the pre-birth stage and into their child’s library journey.

Tender Brief

ASCEL are looking for individuals/organisations to develop areas of the toolkit:

a.) Collate all the content for the toolkit

b.) Create or commission a fresh and exciting design in liaison with ASCEL

The areas of content required for the toolkit are:

i) An appealing presentation of the key messages (supplied by ASCEL) with guidance on how to maximize use of the messages

ii) Research into the kind of partners that will support public library staff with their work with parents-to-be and the creation of a list of partners

iii) A summary of good practice examples from libraries (ASCEL will support this research)

iv) A curated collection of 15 nursery rhymes/songs that work well for interacting with an unborn baby (recommended by parents and representing our diverse community)

Full Tender Brief Document giving expression of interest details and timescale.

Monday, 18 July, 2016

Today (18/7/2016) Save the Children launched a report which details how boys are nearly twice as likely to fall behind at the time they start school. The research shows that boys are behind their female peers in every single local authority in England, but higher gender gaps are associated with higher levels of deprivation. It also identifies that high quality pre-school provision can help close the gender gap.

Public Libraries are crucially important in supporting all children to reach their potential. It is vital that children in the early years have free access to a wide range of books to build their confidence to engage with books and early literacy. Young children who visit public libraries are exposed to a huge variety of books and a range of reading experiences and choices.

Children need to be able to choose the books they are interested in, including stories and rhymes but also non-fiction. Libraries also offer rhyme time sessions which help to build language and communication skills and also support children’s concentration and focus through physical actions.

The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) and The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) welcome this report and encourage all those working with young children and their families to support them to visit their libraries to ensure that boys and girls benefit from the wealth of opportunities they will discover.

Read the full report

Save the Children website

Friday, 10 June, 2016

Friday June 10th marks the launch of an Autism Friendly Libraries training film for library staff. Following research showing that more than 9 in 10 people with autism would use their library more if some autism friendly adjustments were made, the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) is to offer training and support to all 3000 of the nation’s public libraries.

The research, conducted by social care organisation Dimensions, showed that whilst people with autism are already more likely than other people to use a library, a few changes could lead to 92% increasing their use of their local library. 

The film commissioned by ASCEL and developed by Dimensions and accompanied by fact sheets, signage and social stories, has been made possible thanks to public funding by Arts Council England. It will receive its first screening today at the Society of Chief Librarians annual seminar in Warwickshire.

View the training film


There are a range of support documents to download:


  • Solihull Libraries  have been working with Autism West Midlands (AWM) to create a Google Earth style walk through of Chelmsley Wood Library. AWM worked with the managers in Chelmsley Wood to set-up autism friendly drop-in sessions and commissioned a filmmaker to create a walk through from the library entrance to all public areas of the library to help people with autism pre-visit the library and know what to see and where to go. There is a link to the walk through from the Library’s web page. (04/07/2016)
  • Social Story for the Big Friendly Read  A Word document that can be adapted for your library. (30/6/2016)

 Autism Friendly Libraries Sharing Good Practice


Full press release


With thanks to our partners Dimensions who worked so hard to create the film and supporting documents;  Arts Council England for making funding available; to Essex Libraries and Coventry Libraries for providing film venues; to all library services who shared their good practice with us; to the Society of Chief Librarians for their support and to the four young people and their families for giving us their time and sharing their thoughts.

Dimensions website