Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries school shortlist announced

Children’s Books Ireland is delighted to announce the Shortlist for the 2019 Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries, a book gifting scheme named in honour of our former patron and long-term friend. Robert was a critic, editor and teacher, a pioneer of the study of children’s literature in Ireland and a true champion of children’s books and their creators. As a way of honouring Robert’s significant contribution to our organisation and to children’s literature and reading in Ireland, Children’s Books Ireland in partnership with Irish Copyright Licensing Association and supporting publishers, will make an award of three libraries worth at least €2,500 each to three schools.

This year’s shortlistees are:

Primary Schools

Aillebrack National School Galway
Ballymore National School Donegal
Graiguenamanagh National School Kilkenny
Scoil Mhuire Naofa Cork
St Anthony’s Boys National School Cork
St Conaire’s National School Clare
St Joseph’s National School Offaly
Sunday’s Well Boys National School Cork
The Buick Memorial Primary School Antrim
Tuam Educate Together Galway

Secondary Schools

Holy Family Commmunity School Dublin
Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School Waterford
St Aloysius’s School Cork
St Joseph’s Seconday School Clare

The winners will be announced in 2020.

In the absence of a Government-funded school library grant this year we received over 340 applications for the Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries scheme, through which just three schools will be awarded a library of books, visits from authors and illustrators, training for staff and additional resources to boost reading in the school. Over three years, some 750 applications for this award have been received. Applications came from primary, secondary and special schools all over the island, with frequently identified areas of need including dyslexia-friendly books, books on anxiety and mental health and books in languages other than English. The overwhelming majority of applications referenced the comparative reluctance of boys to read and their concerns about the social and emotional wellbeing of their students.

Children’s Books Ireland is calling on the government to reinstate the school library grant which was abolished in Budget 2008. Valued at approximately €2.2m, the grant from the Department of Education and Skills was instrumental in helping schools to support their students’ needs in relation to literacy, numeracy and reading for pleasure. Research has shown that reading for pleasure improves mental well-being, increases vocabulary, builds literacy and numeracy skills and is the strongest indicator of success at school and beyond. A lack of school libraries hits areas of socio-economic deprivation hardest and is particularly problematic for schools in rural areas, whose pupils will have more limited access to public libraries. Preliminary results of a survey on school libraries and the needs of schools in relation to books, in partnership with University College Dublin and the School Library Association in the Republic of Ireland, will be published in 2020.