What's new

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

Thursday, 26 May, 2016

Philip Ardagh has written an open letter to Simon Cowell in response to his comments that the books he is reading to his son are “quite boring”. Philip said “A good librarian can point you in the direction of some amazing books for your son. There really are some wonderful children’s books waiting to be shared, and a professional librarian can help you access them”. 

ASCEL never can resist a challenge and we’ve enlisted librarians across the country to provide a list of stories which have been tried, tested and loved by two year olds.

We love to see dads sharing books with their young children. Books for two year olds need to be immediately appealing. They also need to offer reassurance and familiarity, as well as new experiences. They should feature strong, memorable characters to help children build their emotional skills and support speech and language development. Above all they should be fun for children and their parents.
We hope Simon and Eric enjoy some of the great books in this list –available of course -from local libraries.

Sarah Mears
Chair ASCEL: The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians

Books to read with a two year old

Philip Ardagh's original letter 

Monday, 25 April, 2016

ASCEL welcomes the Cultural Education Challenge. We believe a coherent wrap-around cultural education offer that connects schools and communities and links them with arts and cultural organisations will ignite curiosity, remove barriers, and enable children and young children to pursue their dreams.

The Cultural Education Challenge is the Arts Council's call for the art, culture and education sectors to work together in offering a consistent, and high quality, art and cultural education for all children and young people.

Download full ASCEL statement

ACE Cultural Education Challenge

Monday, 18 April, 2016

During the last year we’ve been working with Arts Council England to identify the library journey children should experience from the time they are born onwards. We’ve identified key points in the journey where public libraries should have some kind of special offer to children - for example Rhymes Times for the under-fives, Summer Reading Challenge for primary age children.  One of the areas that we have not tackled nationally is the pre-natal time - and engaging with parents to be around the importance of sharing books with tiny babies, singing to your bump etc. These are the presentations and notes from the one day workshop held on 21 March 2016, aiming to discuss and help shape the library offer to parents-to-be.

Our next steps are to draw together all  the thoughts from the day and make some recommendations about how we develop the offer for the first stage of the journey.


Kate Freeman Lead Communication Advisor for Early Development, ICAN - the children’s communication charity. Engaging with children and parents pre-birth

Kelly Walsh, Head of Research, Booktrust. Bookstart Bump

Katherine Hodges, Digital Lead, Baby Buddy App, Team Best Beginnings. Baby Buddy app 

Margaret Street, Early Years Librarian, Hertfordshire Libraries. Case Study: Black and white book-making 

Annabel Gittins, Library Commissioning Manager for Children and Young People, Shropshire Libraries. Case Study: Baby Shower

Notes from discussion sessions

Further information from Bookstart:

Bookstart Bump case studies

Bookstart bump evaluation executive summary

Bookstart Bump Research handout

Brain Development Review, executive summary

Saloni Krishnan Presentation


Tuesday, 12 April, 2016

Public libraries across England are today launching a scheme to support them with expert endorsed books available to borrow for free.

Reading Well for young people is part of the hugely successful Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme and will provide 13-18 year-olds with high-quality information, support and advice on a wide-range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm, and difficult life pressures, like bullying and exams.

Download the resource pack  from The Reading Agency website

Further details from the Reading Agency

Saturday, 2 April, 2016

Today is not only World Autism Awareness Day but also International Children’s Book Day. And 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.

Lisa Hopkins, Managing Director of Dimensions, said, “Dimensions already works in partnership with the UK’s 4 major cinema chains to offer autism friendly cinema screenings every month and we are delighted to be able to extend our expertise to the libraries network through the partnership which we are announcing today.”

Sarah Mears, Chair of ASCEL, said, “Libraries are at the heart of our communities and I am deeply proud that this initiative will encourage individual libraries to help more people to visit by adopting autism friendly approaches.”

The project, which was supported using public funding by Arts Council England, will lead to a training video for librarians, fact sheets, signage and social stories. The training will be launched at the Society of Chief Librarians seminar in June.

Hopkins added, “The research told us clearly that the major barrier is awareness of autism, amongst library staff and library users alike. Respondents didn’t want much: a little kindness, to be not judged, and for a few simple adaptations to allow for sensory sensitivities. All parts of the community could learn something from that.”

Download full press release


Notes to the Editor

For more information, interviews, and case studies contact Duncan Bell, PR Manager at Dimensions, on (e) Duncan.bell@dimensions-uk.org (t) 0300 303 9062 or (m) 07506 663 793.

Dimensions is a specialist provider of a wide range of services for people with learning disabilities and people who experience autism. We are a not-for-profit organisation, supporting around 3,500 people and their families throughout England and Wales.

We have been providing support packages for families for almost 40 years. We offer a range of support services to adults of all ages, including those with complex needs or challenging behaviour. We enable people to be part of their community and make their own choices and decisions about their lives.

We are proud to be a not-for-profit organisation, not here for commercial gain. This means we're able to invest all our efforts and resources into helping us achieve person-centred processes with positive outcomes for everyone we work with.