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Monday, 4 June, 2018

Invitation to Tender: Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL)

Title: ASCEL membership review

Deadline for receipt of proposals: 5pm on 30 June, 2018


The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) are seeking to carry out a review of the organisation that will ensure a robust children and young people’s organisation fit for the future. ASCEL is the national body which leads excellence in library services for children, young people and schools. However, a rapidly changing public library landscape means the organisation must reflect and adapt to ensure it remains relevant and the unifying voice of this part of the libraries sector.


Specification and scope

ASCEL is looking for individuals/organisations to research and produce a report on recommended operational models for future working of the organisation.  The recommendations will be considered by ASCEL national committee.  The suggested operational models should include recommendations on structure, membership make-up, subscriptions, governance, areas of work and expertise.



ASCEL welcomes innovative proposals of how to achieve the above, but the following elements would need to be incorporated into proposals:

  • Analysis of the findings from recent consultation with the existing membership and SCL
  • Consultation with non-members and less engaged members of ASCEL
  • Consultation with key stakeholders, including the Society of Chief Librarians, Arts Council England, BookTrust, The Reading Agency
  • Consultation with key partners, including the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), Youth Libraries Group, The School Library Association, School Libraries Group, the National Literacy Trust 
  • Exploration of the work ASCEL undertakes, specifically in relation to the Children’s Promise 
  • Scoping of the work SCL undertakes now that it is an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation

Further details and how to submit a proposal

Monday, 21 May, 2018

“ASCEL is delighted to be working in partnership with Beanstalk (https://www.beanstalkcharity.org) to help children increase their enjoyment of reading. Both organisations encourage and enable children to practise and improve their reading so that they become confident readers. Good reading skills help to support children as they transition through school. The partnership will enable both organisations to work together to seek opportunities for improving reading support in schools in local communities.”

Sue Ball, ASCEL National Chair, May 2018


“It’s wonderful when two organisations come together and work with each other to achieve the same aims. Beanstalk and ASCEL both seek to ensure children have access to books and have the necessary skills to read these books. This is an exciting step forward for Beanstalk and will enable us to reach even more children in the heart of the communities.”

Ginny Lunn, CEO, Beanstalk, May 2018

ASCEL & Beanstalk MOU



Friday, 15 December, 2017

Read On Get On Coalition launches first robust measure of children’s reading at age 11, as commercial data is published for the first time.

Response by The Society of Chief Librarians and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians

The Society of Chief Librarians  (SCL) and The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) welcome this new  annual measure from the Read On Get On (ROGO) coalition which has created a more holistic view of how well the nation’s children are reading . We are delighted that all three elements of reading   - cognitive reading skills, affective processes and reading behaviours -have been incorporated into this model.

Public Libraries provide powerful support for children’s reading and we can make a significant contribution to affective processes (including high levels of reading enjoyment, motivation and positive reading attitudes). High levels of participation in the  annual Summer Reading Challenge and engagement in a wide range of reading activities in libraries demonstrate that when children have free choice about what they read, easy access to  the wide range of  books that only a library can offer, supportive adults to help children find the book that is right for them and fun activities promoting books, they are more likely to be motivated to read and to enjoy the reading experience.  

The new model also highlights the importance of reading daily outside of the school environment. Public libraries actively support parents and children to read together every day and encourage parents and children to develop the reading habit early by promoting book sharing through rhyme times and story times in the early years.

SCL and ASCEL believe that an improved understanding of how the three elements interact will enable all agencies supporting children’s reading to coalesce around shared improvement strategies. We are looking forward to working within the ROGO coalition and continuing to develop and deliver great reading activities to inspire children to become lifelong readers.


Monday, 11 December, 2017

ASCEL is inviting expressions of interest for an individual or organisation to produce a toolkit of resources focussing on activities in libraries to help combat childhood obesity as part of the Universal Health Offer.   

The closing date for expressions of interest in this work is 5pm 12 January 2018. 

All details in the link.

Developing a Library Toolkit of Resources to Promote Good Health and Wellbeing in Children Aged 5-11 Years

Monday, 4 December, 2017

Children and young people value public libraries and recognise the benefits to them.

These were the findings of a review of three years of the young people’s library survey,  a co-development by library professionals and CIPFA Research. The survey, which is divided into three age ranges 0-7 (completed by parents and carers), 7-11 and 11- 16, asks children and young people:

  • how they feel about their library;
  • what they enjoy and
  • what else they would like to do in the library.

The report identified that whilst children and young people enjoy all the resources of the library, reading, a great choice of books and cultural activities are all still really important.

In the early years parents highlight the value of the library in terms of helping children feel ready to start school and building their language and communication skills.

Whilst the appearance of the library and its resources are important to children, the most important aspect of the library for most children is the welcome they receive from the library staff.

This report pulls together 3 years of data from 18 library services and 42,859 respondents.  Findings have also been mapped against the index of multiple deprivation revealing that libraries are really important to young people and their families when access to resources for learning can be challenging, particularly for learning resources and computer availability.

Download the CIPFA Report

Thursday, 12 October, 2017

The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) Launch Bump Booster


Bump Booster is a new online resource developed for ASCEL to help library staff support parents-to-be. It includes guidance for library staff, ideas for parents-to-be and great rhymes to sing to a bump.


Babies in the womb can hear their parents and the world around them. Parents can give their child an early start by singing and talking to them before they are born.

Bump Booster focuses on three simple messages that can make a huge difference to a baby’s development:

    - Talk to your bump - your baby can hear you from 18 weeks

     - Read to your bump - your baby remembers noises from the womb,

     - Bond with your bump - reading and singing to your baby helps you to bond with your them

Bump Booster is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to help parents and children and to encourage them to become more active users of libraries.

A key finding of the report into the Automatic Library Membership Pilots evaluation (Siddall 2014) presented by Arts Council England (ACE), 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 identify key interactions in a child’s library/reading life that are delivered in libraries across the country

    - A national seminar

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-to-be and supporting and promoting parental and children’s reading journeys.

Following a tender process Diane Dixon Associates was awarded the contract to research and create the tool kit

In addition the following library services successfully bid for small amounts of funding to carry out pilot work with parents-to-be to supplement the tool kit content:

 - Dudley

 - Leicestershire

 - Gateshead

 - Hertfordshire

The learning from the pilot projects in Dudley, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire are now available in the toolkit. 

Neil MacInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians comments, “Work around the children’s library journey highlighted a clear need for library staff to engage with parents-to-be so that they can understand how libraries can help them with their child’s early learning. We welcome this new resource and the opportunities it will create for library staff to engage with this audience.”

Sue Ball, Chair of ASCEL says, “We are delighted with the production of Bump Booster. This new toolkit provides library staff with a range of resources to develop their work with parents-to-be in local communities. Parents-to-be can also access the toolkit and sing and read to their bump in the comfort of their own homes. ASCEL would like to thank Arts Council England and The Society of Chief Librarians for funding this work and Diane Dixon Associates for creating the toolkit.”




The Bump Booster toolkit can be found on the ASCEL website http://www.ascel.org.uk/bump-booster

ASCEL is the national network of senior managers in Children’s Public and Schools’ Library Services leading on excellence in library services for children and young people

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

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