Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Seven Stories Centre

in Newcastle, England is in danger of losing 100% of its funding. It is the National Centre for Children's Literature in the United Kingdom. If it loses all its funding then an enormous amount of material related to children's literature will not be available to researchers, librarians, teachers, parents and children. All sorts of very valuable activities will be lost.
As some writers are pointing out everyone has to bear cuts but to cut the entire funding is simply wrong because once access to something like that is lost and there are no funds to, at very least, safely store the primary material for futue access, then we all (yes, including those of us in Australia) part of our history.
Children's literature gets far too little recognition in academic research. It is generally not regarded as worthy of research. Most research into children's literature in Australia is done in departments of librarianship (also dwindling in size and funding). It is not done in departments of literature or even in education. It is rare indeed to find scarce research funds being given to the study of children's literature, particularly contemporary children's literature.
Our own Children's Literature Research Collection at our State Library is now virtually closed to outsiders. I have used it in the past but it is difficult to access the material and the librarian once in charge is now deceased and two of her colleagues are retired. The librarians left have less interest. Children's literature is not "their area".
But we need these things. Writers need these resources, so do teachers and librarians, historians and others. It is about far more than "a child reading a book". It helps us understand the past so we can face the future with more confidence and understanding.
If you live in the UK then Seven Stories could do with your help. If you live here and you are involved in libraries or schools or writing it might not hurt to add your voice, after all we benefit from it too.
It is a cut of the wrong amount in the wrong place.

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