Automatic library membership for school children

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Babies will be issued library cards with birth certificates and school children will receive automatic membership, as part of a national pilot project.

The aim of the Arts Council England scheme is to increase the number of children and families using their local library by testing new ways to increase membership.

Surrey County Council’s involvement will see pupils from St Andrew’s Catholic School in Leatherhead being signed up to their local library automatically, with parental consent. If the scheme is successful, it could be rolled out to more schools across the county.

Elsewhere among the 22 local authorities piloting the scheme, birth registration services will offer library cards for babies and joint library and leisure activity cards will be issued to youngsters.

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Just like a family photo in your wallet, a library card is a friend you carry with you through life. We invest a lot of time, money and energy in providing a thriving library service so we are happy to try out new and innovative ways to boost membership.

“Developing a love of reading at an early age is vital to a child’s development, laying the foundations for a successful education. Libraries are also a lot of fun, so making it easier to join makes sense.”

Surrey County Council is one of 22 local authorities* to share £55,000 in piloting schemes for the Arts Council England project, which has won Government support. Surrey received £4,000.

Nicky Morgan, Director of Libraries at Arts Council England, said: “These projects will test out genuinely exciting, new ways of encouraging children, young people and families to join and access their local libraries.”

Surrey’s libraries stock 1.2 million books, as well as CDs and DVDs. All 52 branches have dedicated areas for children featuring a total of 290,000 books for youngsters. Regular children’s events are held throughout the year, including Rhymetime sessions and the Children’s Book Awards.

Find out more at your local library or visit


Media requiring more information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley at or on 0208 541 7259.

* Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Havering, Lewisham, Medway, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Sandwell, South Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Surrey, Thurrock, Waltham Forest, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, York.


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