Orders of the Day — Training Colleges (Libraries)

– in the House of Commons at 4:54 pm on 28th January 1964.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Rees.]

7.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

I am grateful at this unusually early hour to have the opportunity of raising the question of libraries in training colleges.

Libraries in higher education generally have been very much neglected over the past few years, and I think that it is symptomatic that in the Robbins Report there is only one very brief reference to them. It is true that the Robbins Committee was rushed. Apparently it wanted five years to do its job, but it had to report much more quickly than that.

It is also true that it is not to be taken as a blueprint for every aspect of higher education, but there has not been a rational appraisement of the rôle of libraries in higher education, as to what should be spent on books, how the libraries should be built and ordered, and what assistance should be provided in the libraries.

I think that that is particularly important in training colleges because of the increase in the length of course to three years. It almost implies an increase of one-third in the amount of books that are likely to be required, and the recommendation of the Robbins Committee that training colleges should be much more closely associated with universities and should award their own degrees in the near future emphasises still more the importance of the rôle of libraries in these colleges.

With regard to the quantity of books required, it is almost necessary to run at a furious pace to stand still, because one is given to understand that knowledge in science almost doubles every 10 years.

With this advance in knowledge there should be a flood of books. Merely to keep abreast of things it is important to spend more money on books and to be more efficient in using them. I should very much like to see an attempt made in the libraries to get a more rational appraisal of what is required.

I do not propose to be partisan in the detailed matters that I wish to raise and I shall be very surprised if the Parliamentary Secretary does not agree with most of my conclusions. Libraries and museums share with an iceberg the feature that a lot is below the surface. The efficient running of a library is not always apparent to members of the committees which administer the libraries, because much of it is technical. The professional people are very good at their job, but, having once served on a library committee, I can say that often the layman is not absolutely au fait with the necessities of the situation. Far too many people regard a library as just a heap of books. I am glad to say that of late the heaps of books in the Ministry of Education have been growing, and I commend the Ministry for its recent attempt to make larger sums of money available to build up the library stocks.

Like, I think, local education authorities and other people interested in training colleges, I should be most grateful if, in the Ministry's statistics, there were a detailed account, covering, perhaps, two or three pages, of what was going on in training college libraries. I have had some difficulty in getting information about local education authority training college libraries in the same form as it is given in respect of voluntary training college libraries. However, I was grateful to the Minister for the Answers which he gave about the voluntary college libraries. He gave a good deal of information which I do not think had been published before. My request is that, for the next two or three years, while this is a crucial matter, this kind of information should be published in the annual statistical report so that we can see what is going on.

The information would not be so burdensome to the colleges as one would think at first glance, because there is the 1961 questionnaire and for most librarians it would be possible to bring this up-to-date and to add such other features which might be thought necessary. I therefore ask that the Ministry of Education should apply its mind to collecting better data so that we can judge how the local education authority training college libraries and the voluntary training college libraries are getting on.

A more important point is this. I think that it can be said that the technical and clerical assistance for all teachers is inadequate. The Robbins Committee refers specifically to this in paragraphs 545 to 547 of its Report. Sixty per cent. of the university staffs which were asked about this thought that the technical assistance which they received was inadequate. I think that if the same question were asked of teachers generally the answer would again be that their clerical assistance was inadequate. This is especially so in respect of training college libraries. There is a particularly clear case for adequate clerical assistance because so much of the work is routine and it is a waste of scarce resources to use training college lecturers for this work.

In the 1961 questionnaire which was sent out there was no analysis of the amount of clerical assistance in raining college libraries. On 29th May last year, when I asked a Question about the voluntary college libraries, I gathered that 14 voluntary colleges had no clerical assistance in the library, four had only half a girl and only five had more than one clerk. When it is borne in mind that to "process" one book—that is, to make an order for it, unpack it, stamp it, put in the tickets, enter it in the reference book and put it on the shelves—takes anything from 20 to 30 minutes, it can be clearly established that more clerical assistance is needed, and we should have data by which we can assess what is going on.

I was pleased on 4th July, when I asked a further Question, that the Minister agreed that the voluntary colleges should take on clerical assistants to bring their libraries up to standard. In the training college letter No. 20 of 9th September, 1963, the Minister said in the last sentence: Colleges are reminded of the need to ensure that the librarian has adequate clerical assistance. More action than merely a sentence in a circular is required. Perhaps this debate will assist in letting voluntary colleges know that they are eligible for the maximum grant. However, I hope that, arising from this debate, further steps will be taken in the voluntary and local education authority colleges to ensure that the library clerical assistance which is required is provided.

Although, perhaps, the best feature of the situation now is that the Ministry is taking steps over a fairly long period and in a sensible way to build up the stock of books, the position is still very unsatisfactory. If one takes the Ministry's own minimum standards as set out in the Library Memorandum of 1961, it comes down to this, that, according to the Ministry's inspectors' standards, there should be a minimum number of 5,000 reference and education books and children's books in a library. In addition, by the same criterion, there should be 2,500 general books. There is a recommendation that each specialist section should have 1,200 books. I cannot conceive of a training college in which there are not at least six specialist departments which require specialist books. Therefore, on the most modest calculation, there should be 15,000 books in every training college library.

The Library Association and the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education have gone into this matter very thoroughly and have made the recommendation that there should be a minimum number of 20,000 books in the book store of a training college library. Whichever set of figures one takes—and I should be prepared to take the figures of these two associations rather than the Minister's figures—one finds that, of the 131 colleges which answered the questionnaire in 1961, 102 had under 16,000 books in their book store and that, of those 102, 61 had under 11,000 books in their book store. In fact, in only 10 training colleges was the Library Association's minimum recommended standard of 20,000 books attained. Whether one takes the Ministry's lower standard or the Library Association's standard, the fact is that very few training colleges have yet reached minimum standards.

Unfortunately, the statistics are a little difficult to put in balance, because sometimes I must refer to the 1961 questionnaire and on other occasions I hope to refer to Answers which I have received in the House. However, this does not vitiate the general argument. In 1962, only eight voluntary colleges had achieved the Library Association's minimum of 20,000 books. Perhaps they deserve special honourable mention.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

Surely the question of whether they deserve commendation depends on what the books are.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

I doubt whether training colleges would have too many books of an unsatisfactory nature. I think that the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) might even strengthen my case, for some of the books might be very old so that the figures when allowance is made for that would be even worse than I am suggesting.

Only seven colleges had reached Library Association standards. These were Homerton, St. Mary's, Newcastle, St. Luke's, Exeter, and Whitelands, which just reached it, and three voluntary colleges which were well above the minimum, Bishop Otter, Froebel with 28,500 and Goldsmiths with nearly 40,000. This is one way of looking at it and by these standards it can be said that most of the training colleges have not reached an acceptable minimum of book store.

Another way is the expenditure on books, but one gets the same sort of pattern. In 1960 prices, the Ministry of Education recommended that a college of 400 students ought to spend £800 per annum on books, £100 per annum on periodicals, exclusive of stationary, printing, postage and odds and ends. In addition to this sum, there should be added 10 per cent. for the maintenance of books. In rough terms, that probably gives a minimum of £1,000 a year. There is a precise recommendation that no college, however small, should spend less than £500 a year.

A rather higher figure is recommended by the Library Association and the A.T.C.D.E. They say that no library is satisfactory if the existing book store is not 20,000 and they recommend: The library could be kept up to date with an annual book fund of £4 per student and £10 per staff member, subject to a minimum of £1,500 per annum (1961 prices) and periodicals and worn binding and replacements of 10 per cent. The minimum given is £1,650 and for a college of 400 students the sum of £1,800.

The results of the questionnaire sent out by the Minister in 1961 give the following sort of picture. My figures are according to the last statistics which I had, 159 colleges, and there may be two or three more now. Questionnaires were sent to 138 of 160 colleges and answers were received from 131. It can be said that the remaining seven were about average. Of the 131, all but four, that is, 127, were below the £1,100 which is the minimum on the Minister's own recommendation. This is the annual book grant. One can look at the figures in other ways, but the fact remains that neither book store nor normal expenditure on training college libraries is anything like satisfactory.

The one redeeming feature is that, seized of this problem, the Minister of Education has recently given special grants over a five to 10-year period to help to build up the stocks. The typical grant, not the average, is £1,000 per annum for a five to 10-year period. This is very sensible, more sensible to spread it over a longish period than suddenly to spend a much larger sum of money. Some of the colleges have had even better grants. Canterbury New College is to get £16,000 for four years, Strawberry Hill, an old college, £10,800 over an eight-year period, and De la Salle £13,000 over the 10-year period. However, the £1,000 grant is the characteristic grant.

The 1961 Report had to say: Many college libraries had a total number of books of all kinds well short of the criteria suggested above and their annual grants were inadequate to bring these totals up to such a level in a reasonable time". That was the reason for these non-recurring grants. In this position I very much hope that the Ministry of Education will not rest on its laurels, but will feel inclined to increase the grants and certainly to have another look at those colleges with not such big book stocks and not as much to spend as they should have.

I now turn to other matters; first, the actual seating space in the libraries. I doubt whether there are more than a handful of training college libraries which are adequate for the rôle of stu- dents working in them, or for the kind of much more sophisticated arrangements, apparatus for visual aids and proper processing of books and so on. The Minister of Education recommended that seats should be provided for 20 per cent. of students and that each student should have 32 sq. ft. of space. The Library Association recommends that the library should cater for 25 per cent. of the students and that there should be 40 sq. ft. for each. The average capacity of 25 of the largest colleges was less than 20 per cent. seating space and for 71 of the largest it was less than 21 per cent. In only four of the smallest colleges had it reached the Library Association figure of 25 per cent. and very few reached 32 sq. ft.

It can be said from these figures that the libraries are most uncomfortable and overcrowded and in many cases are putting a strain on public library facilities as students go to the public libraries to work. Again, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to do what he can to improve the situation in that respect. The Ministry of Education recommended that all libraries should have more than one library room. Quite obviously, the processing part of the library needs one room and the librarian himself another. A complex of at least one large and several small rooms is needed and yet 80 colleges have only one room.

The last head of my list of complaints is of insufficient attention to the staffing of the library. The ideal situation which the Ministry recommends is that a training college of 600 to 850 students should have a head of the library, either a tutor librarian or professional librarian—and I shall not enter into the argument about whether a tutor or professional librarian is the better, for this is a somewhat refined argument, but it is clearly essential that he should be a person qualified for duties of this description. He should be equated with other heads of departments and be on the academic board so that the rôle of the library in the college does not suffer. As a corollary, he should be consulted about policy on the library building, organisation and staffing.

He should have time to be in the schools with the students as they do their school work and he should be in touch with the librarians of the school libraries. I found it disappointing that the Newsom Report made so many references to the inadequacies of libraries in schools. I can go back almost 40 years to one of the teachers who taught me and who was a very active person in the School Library Association and whose school had a model of a school library. It seems as though we have not kept pace with what was then a good development.

The librarian should also have time to attend his professional meetings, Library Association meetings, and time to hunt round for second-hand books, and so on. Far too often, when other members of the staff go on vacation, the library staff has to clear up arrears of work which it has not been possible to do during term. The librarian should be in a position to do teaching and/or research and generally be a full member of the training college staff. He should be supported by a chartered deputy librarian, a full-time trainee and at least one clerk, possibly with clerical assistance at peak periods. I hope that this will be the aim and not too far from realisation.

The Ministry report makes the drastic comment that many libraries are closed far too long within the college session. It says: It is a matter of regret to find that some college libraries are closed for long periods in the day, perhaps just when students might use them best, because there is no one to supervise them. In conclusion, I ask for better data in the Ministry's statistics so that we can see what is going on. Can there be a review of training college library staff to a reasonably high standard and can the amount of clerical assistance be increased to the extent of avoiding professional people doing chores which detract from their own work? Can there be a thorough review of library accommodation and of stocks of books which, according to the minimum standards, are not sufficient in the majority of our colleges?

8.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Woodside

I want to say a few words on this question of libraries, and I am pleased that this opportunity has arisen. I shall not keep the House any longer than I feel necessary because, for once, it seems that we may have a reasonably early evening.

I sometimes feel that we do not quite appreciate the importance, however much lip service we may pay to it, of the library to students. The figures which my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) quoted are revealing in that the Library Association has found it necessary to discuss at great length questions of area, storage accommodation, the height of roofs and self-closing and silent doors. One would think that in a country with a long tradition of education many or all of these points would have long since been established and adopted. The fact that they have not shows to some extent how little respect we have for the library and its importance in the whole educational structure.

I am aware that this debate does not apply to Scotland in the same way as it does to England, and that it will be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education who will be replying. In Scotland we have a rather different kind of entrant to training colleges in general. In England the student is usually training for a certificate. Students can be divided generally into the young people going straight from school to training college and the older people coming from industry or commerce to a training college. In Scotland we have many degree students who come to training colleges because theoretically they must have teacher training before they can teach in the Scottish schools.

The library is very important, especially as in my own constituency there is a university which is close to very large training college. Students are having considerable difficulty in finding reasonable lodgings, and, in consequence they use the libraries a great deal more than students in some of the better established residential types of universities.

The use of the libraries for study is important for students at a critical time in their careers. It is essential that the libraries should have plenty of seats and be well equipped with books on subjects for study, but students should be able to use the libraries much as we use the Library in the House of Commons in connection with our normal constituency work. I think that the comfort of the libraries is vital from this point of view.

My hon. Friend spoke at considerable length, and very forcibly, on the question of the stocks of books in the libraries. I would make the plea that there should be a certain liberality of attitude when we think in terms of library stocks because of the type of entrants. We have young people coming into a strange world because the difference between school and training college is great. They must be given every opportunity to use the facilities of the libraries and this is not always easily done when all they have is a text-book library.

I suggest that there should be a literary section of the library, totally non-vocational, and that students should be encouraged to take a reasonably modern novel away with them each week, because I am quite sure that most of them could find the time to read such books. This would be of ultimate benefit to them and to the students when they would be teaching later. Some of the older students have probably not as good a background as they would like, because they are coming from commerce or industry rather late in life and feel that they have a great deal to learn. The library stock should be sufficiently wide to encourage these students to become accustomed to using it and to enjoy using it. For these people particularly, it is important that much more than purely factual material is included in the stock.

For the degree student, no matter what the training colleges may say, the pressure of a degree course, particularly in the final year, is considerably greater than the ordinary training college course. The degree student should have the chance to relax a little within the library and, instead of always picking on the usual material which is of importance to him in his course, take up novels and lighter reading material.

It is surprising to be that we still talk about the necessity for good clerical assistance in libraries. It is really astonishing that we have not yet realised that trained and qualified manpower is scarce and that it is an awful waste of what we have if we require a senior librarian to do all sorts of jobs which should not fall on him. I agree whole- heartedly with my hon. Friend that one of the best ways to make good use of our libraries is to make sure that the librarian is a senior member of the staff and have him involved in the life of the college, so that the library ceases to be just a rather dull and murky place at the end of the corridor where people go when they have nowhere else to go. People should go to the librarian when they want help.

The experience of most people in using libraries is that, when they actually get down to it, they find that the librarians are almost embarrassingly helpful. Many times I have, been into a library wanting comparatively little information and have come away with more than I could possibly digest. Librarians all over the country are like that.

One feature of the system which I have learned and relearned with pleasure is that practically every library in the country is just an offshoot of the whole library system of Great Britain. It is one of the great features of it, one of the real evidences of solidarity, if that be the right word in this context, that the librarian of a library in Glasgow feels perfectly at liberty to call on a librarian in Exeter, Oxford or some other place for assistance, and very seldom is a request refused.

For this purpose, the librarian of the training college library should have such a status within the college that, without needing to ask for time off or deal in any way with his superiors, he is free to do what he thinks right for his library. It should be accepted that he is an important man, not just the librarian of the college, but, more than that, the college's means of access, as it were, to all the libraries in the country. We should allow him to mix and mingle with other senior librarians throughout the country. In this way, we shall use him properly so that the college will not have just its own miserable 10,000 or 14,000 volumes but will have access to all the volumes throughout the land.

This is a small but very important matter which my hon. Friend has chosen to raise tonight, and I hope that the Minister will pay great attention to what he has said. I believe that action such as he urges would pay us enormously in the expansion of higher education which we all hope to see.

8.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

We are very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) for raising so important a subject as the state of libraries in training colleges. It is noteworthy that the Members supporting my hon. Friend by their presence in the Chamber this evening are, in the main, Scottish Members. This is a reflection of the great quality of readership that one finds in Scotland. I am not a native of Scotland but, in the thirty years I have lived there, I have tried to be a quick learner, and I have always much admired the great reading done by Scottish people.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael) spoke about the central library. This reminds me of an occasion when someone who had written a book asked me, as a friend, if I would, when I had the opportunity, put in a suggestion at appropriate libraries that this book should be obtained. In Scotland, we have an admirable central circulating library service. In fact, I had this book suggested at several local authority libraries, and all those who requested the book got a card back from their respective libraries saying that the book was obtained from the central library. In the end, this meant that only one book was purchased and we all had to take our turn.

However, I do not speak here on behalf of authors or publishers. My concern is that we establish for our schools and training colleges a strong central library with a service of literature of all types, especially the type of books to which students going in for teaching should have access.

I may have misheard my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, but I thought that, in giving us some statistics, he said that certain libraries had the assistance of "half a girl." My imagination boggled. My hon. Friend asked what was half a girl—and which half? This is a rather extraordinary situation. It means that some librarians have no assistants at all, and that is shocking. It passes my comprehension how a librarian can administer a library, containing anything from 10,000 to 20,000 books which are used by students, without having assistance. I do not know what are the figures for Scotland, but I am certain that no librarian there would be content with half a girl as an assistant, whichever half it might be.

Libraries should contain copies of journals, especially political journals. It is important that teachers should take an active interest in politics, and in the last few months political journals have provided interesting and exciting reading. Some splendid reports have appeared in the last few years, and some have been best sellers. Others were not such good sellers. But there should be copies of all of them in the libraries. Very often what is most popular is not always the best literature to read. I am sure that the reports issued by the Newsom, Robbins, Crowther and Albemarle Committees ought to appear in every training college library—besides the Denning Report. Copies of the Spectator should be available, and other publications such as the Economist, the Tribune and the New Statesman, so that the students may read comments which are intelligent and unintelligent, indifferent and ambitious.

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside urged that students should read literature which was not vocationally beneficial. It is well worth occasionally doing something which does not yield a utilitarian return. Literature is worth reading for the enjoyment of doing so. It helps to expand one's command of the language and increases one's capacity of expression.

Those of us who had little education and had to leave school early to work long hours in factories under frightful conditions found that our sensitivity was deadened and our capacity to appreciate literature lessened. That is part of the price which one had to pay for working in a factory. Young people who go into the teaching profession today make use of literature to a greater extent than was possible for some of us forty or fifty years ago.

With the growth of training colleges and the report on residential colleges by the Robbins Committee, an argument has arisen about whether residential colleges are desirable and whether more people should be encouraged to go to colleges near their homes. Because of the failure of the Government in recent years to solve the housing problems which exist in great urban areas; because of the overcrowding of homes, the higher birth rate and the fact that children are more virile because parents now get better food than forty years ago, very often reading at home is difficult.

With television and the radio, it is difficult for young students in working-class homes to have the amenity and environment to read at home. The alternative is adequate reading facilities at their colleges. In Glasgow—and, I am sure, in Birmingham, Liverpool and London also—we have a sorry picture of overcrowded homes and a failure by the central Government to solve the problem of overcrowding in our homes.

Scotland has a great tradition of working-class education. It is surprising the number of students in our Scottish universities who come from working-class homes. When I first went to Glasgow, I was taken by my agent to Maryhill and was introduced to a lady and gentleman—the man was 86 and his wife 82—who bred 14 children, some of whom had become executives in industry and two of whom were teachers, having graduated at Glasgow University. They were all bred in a room and kitchen. My immediate thought was that that couple were the sort of people to whom monuments should be erected for rearing good families in such frightful conditions.

Hon. Members complain that they cannot read in the Library of the House because certain hon. Members talk in a whisper that can be heard all over the Library. We get complaints about accommodation in the House of Commons and it is said that there is no room to work. The House is sparsely attended for this Adjournment debate, but if there had been a three-line Whip hon. Members would have been in the Library trying to read, then giving it up and going to sleep.

Few students in our big cities or urban areas can leave their training colleges at five o'clock and go home and find the conditions or amenities in which to read. It simply cannot be done because of the small houses and urban conditions. It is all very well for people with large houses; they have the rooms. Again, it is almost impossible for a working- class family in winter time to heat more than one room.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. He is not technically out of order, but I point out to him that the Chair has deprecated matters being raised for which the Minister who is to reply is not responsible

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I am pointing out the need for increasing the library service in training colleges, and I am supporting my hon. Friend in giving recollections from my experience of the conditions existing for the students outside the colleges, justifying my hon. Friend's claim that we should have a tremendous increase in the library services. That is my point.

It is difficult for parents in the low income group with two or three children at school, with, perhaps, a boy at university and a girl at a training college, and with the prices of coal and electricity as they are, to enable students when they come home to occupy themselves in different rooms and try to study. If, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) had a daughter who was keen on music, she would have to play her piano in a room by herself in which other children could not read. It would be far better to have an adequate library service so that the children could read.

I obey your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. That was the final case which I was making in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland. He has done a great service to students in raising this issue, because reading is important. Although I have had practically no education, except in engineering to get my living, I imagine that the habit of getting a book, whatever literature it might be, is one of the most important intellectual disciplines for a person undergoing formal education and that the habit of reading and of being tested on the quality of one's reading is an important educational process. I am hazarding a guess in something of which I know little.

I came in to this debate because I am convinced that we should do much more to foster the habit of reading and the concentration that is needed for it. I know that in this I will have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) because he is—or was—in the book trade. In raising this debate, by hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland has done a service, not only to England and Wales, but to Scotland, also.

8.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Guy Barnett Mr Guy Barnett , South Dorset

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) on raising this important subject and I draw the attention of the House to the fact that, except for the Government Front Bench, there is not a single hon. Member opposite attending this extremely important debate. I make one point only and I make it as an ex-teacher. This is why I feel that it is right for me to intervene briefly to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the extreme importance of this subject.

During his working life a teacher has an enormous amount of work to attend to. His timetable is very full and, as the Parliamentary Secretary well knows, classes are frequently over-sized. In the evenings he is constantly occupied with marking papers and preparing lessons. I remember the extent to which during the six or eight years when I was teaching, I had to draw upon the reading I did when I was studying. I found little time, and often lacked the energy which no doubt I should have shown, for reading at the time when I was actually teaching.

I emphasise, also, the importance of wide reading during the period of studentship. I know from my own experience as a teacher that the tendency in teaching is to get too close to the subject of study and to neglect the wide reading which one might do while one is teaching. I therefore hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will take seriously what has been said in the debate, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, and will see to what extent he can rectify the serious situation of which all of us are to some extent aware but which my hon. Friend has so excellently outlined to the House.

8.49 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

I also would like to support my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) on this important topic. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) was speaking I was reminded of the circumstances in our part of the country and no doubt in centres further south of the Border.

In the city from which I come the principal library is always crowded with young people who are in the senior secondary school, the grammar school and the training colleges. They are there from morning to night, and even on Saturdays and Sundays, because the library is open to provide facilities for just such students. There is a proposal in the district, unfortunately rejected already in some quarters, that the 12 or 15 libraries in the city should be kept open for the use of young people who are studying in the higher reaches of the schools and the training colleges. I have a recent annual report of the Jordan Hill Training College which refers to another room being opened and more facilities being provided.

I am not the product of a university, but one thing I have come to understand both as a parent and as one who has interested himself in education is that young people require to appreciate early how to learn. Here I am not referring merely to the facility of having a teacher at the younger stages in the schools when the children are rather spoonfed by their teachers. I refer to the facility when they go to the sixth form and the training college to be able to find out for themselves where information is.

When we come to the House of Commons as new Members one of the things we are told to do is to find out where the various books are in the Library. What is important is not so much knowing the contents of the books as where to go to get the information that one wants. Teaching young persons how to learn seems to me to be one of the main functions and the art of good teaching.

How far the training colleges can cope in this respect depends on the resources available, and so forth. I have no doubt, from their quality, that the persons associated with the training colleges and the various committees are doing all they possibly can, within the limits placed at their disposal, to ensure that all their responsibilities receive an equal share of the all-too-inadequate resources.

In the new outlook of recent times and in view of the acceptance of the Robbins Report recommendation to raise the school-leaving age to 16, the problem which my hon. Friend has raised will become increasingly important. I notice from the Report—my hon. Friend will be pleased to hear this—that some training colleges in Scotland have become interested in a form of associateship for providing some of these facilities.

I wanted to offer these observations to the House in the hope that they would add some weight to what has been said about the importance of this facility and service, now all too inadequate beginning in our schools and going on into the training colleges.

It seems to me that throughout the whole field of teaching our teachers could be relieved of many of their mundane tasks, such as collecting food money, running concerts, and the other extra duties which are associated with schools. There are many lay people with excellent organising qualities who could devote themselves to this service to the schools, training colleges and universities, and so enable the qualified teaching staff, who are all too scarce, to devote themselves to the purposes for which they were trained, in which they could give even greater service if they were free to do so.

8.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Jones Mr James Jones , Wrexham

I am very pleased to support the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden). If I do not quote my Scripture correctly, perhaps I shall be forgiven, because I translate from a Welsh Bible. I am not too familiar with the English Bible, but I know my Welsh Bible fairly well. Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness to the flesh. There was a time when libraries were to be found only in very exclusive places, in the houses of the aristocracy and in the ancient universities of England, in Oxford and Cambridge. I am pleased to say it was a resident in my own division, a Nonconformist minister in Wrexham, Dr. David Williams, who founded one of the first public libraries in England and Wales. I shall not speak about Scotland, because I am not an authority on that great country.

The wheel seems to have turned full circle, because tonight we are debating libraries in the training colleges. Libraries started in the universities and now we are very anxious to improve the library service in our training colleges. When I was at college I happened to be the librarian, so I have a fair knowledge of the amount of work involved. I remember one of my tutors there asking me, "What is an educated man?" The answer that he offered was "An educated man is he who knows what he knows, who knows what he does not know, and who knows where to find the information for what he does not know." That is the function of the library. Indeed, no college can be considered suitably equipped unless it is very rich indeed in its volumes in the library.

I said that too much reading is a weary to the flesh. By that I mean this. There inevitably comes a time in the life of every person to whom too much reading becomes a strain. But that is not true of the young people. That is the time to read and to go to the very depth or to reach the very height of things, according to one's conception of depth and height. Consequently, I believe that it is only right that we should give to the students in our training colleges all the equipment necessary to enable them to read widely. That is the capital upon which they can draw for the rest of their professional careers.

As I say, I am a Welshman, though I am told that there is no need for me to give that information because of my accent. We Welsh are very fortunate in being able to speak two languages. We have books in English and in Welsh, and especially in these days it is very important that we should get our fair share of Welsh books in our Welsh training colleges.

The preservation of the Welsh language is a very pressing matter. Some colleges in Wales are now training people to teach using Welsh as the medium of instruction—something that was not done when I was at college. That being so, the necessity for Welsh books today is greater than ever, and I am, therefore, very pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland has raised this subject this evening. It gives us an opportunity to stress the importance of having a very rich variety of volumes in the libraries of the English training colleges, and a similar rich variety of English and Welsh volumes in the Welsh colleges.

We have real treasures in Welsh literature. I suppose that the Welsh hymn book is the best in the world; and that is a big claim to make. I know the Scottish hymns fairly well—I belong to a denomination that started in Scotland, which is where we got our inspiration. We have this richness of literature, and it is only fair that these works should be well represented in our training college libraries.

9.2 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) on initiating this debate. Some time ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and I were approached about the amounts of money spent on university and training college libraries in Scotland and in England and were informed that Scotland came out very badly from the comparison. We found it exceedingly difficult to get information, because one cannot put down Parliamentary Questions about it. This has raised some controversy as to the extent to which there should be accountability to the House of Commons for these activities. Had that been the position, we might have known the exact state of things in England and Scotland.

I have heard a number of complaints in Scotland about the inadequacy, in some respects, of some university and training college libraries, and had we had a Scottish Minister present tonight—and this debate is not confined to England, but is a United Kingdom debate—sufficiently interested in training college libraries, he could have given the various points his attention.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland spoke of the increased grants for these libraries that were made a short time ago, and it would have been interesting to know whether the same increases applied in Scotland.

There can be no doubt that the libraries of colleges and public institutions are exceedingly important. I spent a considerable time in the book trade, and I was appalled by the inadequacy of the libraries possessed by many university students and teachers. When I visited their homes I was horrified at the lack of what I regard as the cultural background of literary works. It seemed to me that these students and teachers used books simply for the purpose—a good purpose; I have no complaint against it—of acquiring their various technical and professional qualifications. Good librarians and proper teachers ought to do something rather more than that, since they are privileged in being educated for a much longer period than other people.

That is why I was interested in the suggestions made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael). Books are much more important than mere tools for the acquisition of certain professional qualifications. They are things which ought to add to the depth of people's lives, and people who are given opportunities to benefit from them ought to do so. Much depends upon the attention which we pay to our libraries. Librarians must have time to be able to guide persons using the library, so that they benefit from the knowledge of the librarians. Librarians should draw these persons out, and point out to them interesting channels of information and personal delight which they would probably never learn unless the librarians showed them.

Librarians must be free to do that, but they are not free to do so unless they have somebody to carry out the drudgery of which my hon. Friend spoke. He mentioned that in many libraries there was only half a girl to do this work. This aspect is important to the whole set-up of our libraries.

When I asked about the quality of books I was not trying to be facetious. Librarians who have to work on a budget are always faced with the problem of what books they should buy, and a number of suggestions have been made. Some have said that what is wanted is a library of novels. If a librarian is working on a limited budget and is trying to provide books dealing with economics, politics, engineering and the classics, it is difficult for him to spend pounds and pounds on fiction. The same consideration applies to the political periodicals that were referred to. It requires a great deal of skill, knowledge and experience to be able to spend money wisely.

It does not matter to what library one goes; one finds an enormous number of books which are never looked at. I have in mind that in the House of Commons we have a fine collection of 600 or 700 volumes of Loeb classics. These are very rare books, but I very seldom see them used in the House. This is not because the books are not good ones, or have no value, or because every hon. Member is so familiar with the classics that he does not require to look at them. They are never used because Members are too busy doing other things.

That is an example of waste—because every university library would be glad to get these books. Librarians must display a great ability in spending grants in a manner which does not result in their having an enormous number of unread books on their shelves.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

I do not criticise the Ministry of Education because recently, in a circular, it has urged libraries to get more up-to-date books on their shelves, but I dare say that there are still quite a number of training college libraries which, for reasons which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) has given, have much dead wood on their shelves.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I was pointing out the importance of the librarian having in charge of these matters people who are able to spend public money wisely in serving the needs of students. Whatever we think about the background of students, we have to remember that they have to pass examinations. They will read the books which will take them through those examinations. Whether we like it or not, the most worn books in the library will be those which are essential for passing examinations in history, English, economics, or whatever the course may be. This work requires a great deal of experience. It comes back to what my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland said about the importance of the librarian.

If we are to extend libraries in the directions suggested in this debate, we have to think in rather wider terms than we have thought so far about expenditure on books, for books are very expensive. A pound or two guineas is a common price for a book. We have to recognise the importance of books and we have to recognise their increasing cost. I believe my hon. Friend said that the present allowance is £800. That is not a great amount if a library is to keep up to date with periodicals and books. I hope the Departments will recognise the importance of this matter because there is a danger of over-specialisation. We are in danger of becoming a nation of technologists and technocrats and in the process losing the rather more important values. That would be a deplorable development. If we are to prevent it, the proper and full development of libraries in training colleges and everywhere else is of great importance.

9.13 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

This debate has given an excellent example of the value of reading. All of us in this House know that there is scarcely any subject which may crop up on which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis)—often off-the-cuff—cannot speak, and make a speech which would do credit to someone who had burned many gallons of midnight oil studying the subject.

Over the years he has spent much of his life among books. He used to run an excellent bookshop. It was a matter of great regret to many of us when he gave it up. He was one of those booksellers who was always in danger of bankrupting himself, because no sooner did he get a really good book than he wanted to retain it and not sell it. It is still a pleasure to visit his home in Edinburgh and find him gloating over this, that or the other book. He brings it out, points out its features and suggests that there is not such a book as this which one could obtain anywhere else.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

My hon. Friend has drawn a good picture of himself, too.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

I too, would like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) for giving us this opportunity to discuss this subject. I apologise for not being in my place when he opened the debate, but I take it that he is not merely urging that more money should be available for training college libraries, but that more advantages would be available to those in training colleges if the number and quality of books in their libraries were increased.

This is not merely a question of having large quantities of books available. It is more a question of acquiring the skill to use books. Virtually no better training service can be rendered in training colleges than for our potential teachers to become skilled in handling books and in learning how to get the best possible advantage from the books in training college libraries, for this will benefit not only themselves but those whom they will subsequently teach. This is also not merely a question of having excellent librarians. The librarian and his staff should be part of the teaching personnel; they should teach the teachers how to convey the skills that the librarian possesses. In some instances this is being done, but I doubt whether it is being done extensively enough.

There is a school in my constituency where the headmaster is an enthusiast of the skill of referring to books. Largely because of his efforts the school library has been built up. It has many pleasing and valuable features. This headmaster insists on his youngsters using the library to its fullest extent. As important as the mathematics tuition is the studying that youngsters are encouraged to do in the library. They are given problems to tackle on a range of subjects and suggestions are made to them. From then on they do research work on their own, report on their findings, say what are their views on the answers they receive from their research and produce summaries of their findings. This is a valuable form of activity which even many adults cannot carry out.

As was pointed out in the debate on education yesterday, we suffer from thinking too much that education is something that begins at the age of 5 and finishes, certainly for two-thirds of the population, at 15. If the skill of studying books and referring to them is gained in the early years, no child really leaves school at 15 or 16, for books continue to open up a new world as the child goes through life. This is a skill which he can acquire at his leisure. It is the kind of skill to which my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) referred. Books are a means of self-education. One can derive great pleasure reading them, and I regard the acquisition of that skill as one of the primary purposes of a library.

It seems that we are only now beginning to realise the importance of teaching youngsters not merely to read, but to read with the minimum of effort. I have not acquired a great deal of skill in that respect, but by being able to read quickly and easily one derives much more pleasure than if one reads slowly, because one is able to read so many more books.

Youngsters in primary schools are taught the physical process of reading. A young lad reads a passage from a book, and provided that he understands what he has read, that is the end of the matter. I know that some people get pleasure from reading, even though they read very slowly. When travelling in a bus or in a train, one sometimes hears a person reading aloud. He carefully articulates every word. Other people move their lips but do not read aloud, and there is a third category, those people who do not move their lips while reading but seem to form the words in their throats. If we can break people of those habits, I am sure that they will gain much more pleasure from reading.

I am not putting forward anything original when I suggest that we should teach youngsters not merely how to read, but how to get the best out of their books. We should carry that process beyond the primary school, into the secondary school, and even into the training colleges about which we are talking tonight.

We usually enjoy doing things that we can do easily, and in raising this subject tonight my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland has opened up the possibilities of self-education. I am sure that if people take advantage of them they will acquire the qualities so often shown by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East.

9.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

This has been an amazing debate. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary never thought that when the Adjournment debate was eventually reached he would be faced with an international barrage on the subject of books and book learning. He will appreciate by now the strange qualities that we on this side of the House possess in aggregate and how widely read are Scottish Members of Parliament, because in the first three speeches made by Scottish Members from this side only one was made by a Scotsman. The second was made by a Welshman and the third by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), who is an Englishman and proud of it.

I well understand the love of books of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East. It was another Scottish Member, no longer with us, who wrote a book called "The Memoirs of a Bankrupt Bookseller". That was the late Sir William Darling. The bookseller from Edinburgh, East nearly bankrupted me during the first years that I was a Member of Parliament, because every morning, on our way to the House, we made a ceremonial tour of the bookshops. This built up my library, but depleted my stock of cash.

We have all been urging the importance of this subject. If ever the need for accepting the advice given from this side of the House was doubted, no doubt should be left after the debate which we had yesterday. We are dealing with training colleges in the first place. There are 160 training colleges in England and Wales. Many of them are being expanded to meet the urgent need. They are faced with the task of preparing themselves, in their aspect of the matter, for the raising of the school-leaving age in a few years' time. We are, therefore, dealing with part of the furniture of the minds and training of the most influential people in the country.

From the age of 5 to 16 pupils in the schools will be in the hands of teachers who have passed through the training colleges. In England, the requisite academic qualities are not nearly as high as they are in Scotland. A man who is a teacher in Scotland must have a university degree. There may be some non-graduates, but, technically speaking, there are no non-graduate male teachers in Scotland. This is one of the things we must bear in mind in considering the training colleges and the nature of the people who go to them. Many young men and women will go straight from school to the training colleges at 17 or 18 years of age.

It is important that this process should be started very much lower down. We have been pressing the Secretary of State for Scotland about this. It is too late to start acquiring the library habit in training college. It must be inculcated in the secondary schools and other schools. I think that it was the Newsom Report which said that only a quarter of the secondary modern schools it England had libraries and that only a quarter of those had good libraries. If we are to get the expanded pool of educated manpower which will continue to fill the training colleges the Minister should be attending to that point. I think that the library in the training college, certainly in a residential training college, should be the living centre of the college's cultural life. There has been a very slow realisation of this in many quarters.

I have addressed Burns suppers and I still have another to address. I do not know how many people appreciate that part of the heritage of the interest in books by Scotsmen which has led to these speeches tonight is that after his marriage Burns moved to Ellisland in 1789 or 1790, where one of the first things he did was to institute a circulating library in that part of Dumfries. Robert Burns was probably the best educated man of his day in Scotland. He was not only educated, but cultured—culture is not one's education but what one does with it. When he died he left furniture worth only £90, but he left a great furniture of the mind.

Another of the reasons why we in Scotland have this academic tradition is Andrew Carnegie, whose name has not yet been mentioned. He established public libraries throughout the whole of Scotland—

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

And Dunfermline was the headquarters and the centre of the central library system which he instituted. When I went to university, all I had to do was to apply to the Carnegie Trust, at Dunfermline, for my university fees. Andrew Carnegie did tremendous things for Scottish education and many working-class boys and girls in Scotland got their university education because of him.

We want to encourage college libraries as much as possible so that they have reasonably comfortable facilities with space and room and certainly not gloom. This may be one of the troubles with the older university libraries. Gloom certainly grows with old books. A library should be a living and changing thing with a constant throwing out and weeding out of the old and a bringing in of the new.

Yesterday, I heard it said that over the past few years we had a thriving tradition of experiment in education. All this information should be available to all the questing minds of the new teachers who should at all times be encouraged to make use of it and to make use of the experiments when they become teachers. I was a teacher myself, if hon. Members have not already guessed, and I went to Jordan-hill Training College. I often had to have recourse to the central library and I remember the hours I spent in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, and the reference library of the Carnegie Library in Ayr, where I lived.

We want these facilities to be readily available so that students are able to study in the libraries, for it is from the college libraries that there should stem the discussion and controversy and the quest for knowledge which we want to encourage. What we are discussing is the growing realisation of the importance of technical education. We need to have available the journals and books in all languages which engineering and other technical students require, and not only the students, but the engineers and other scientists who want to be informed of the scientific techniques being developed throughout the world. I know that it is not possible to do everything, but it must be made known that the facilities are available.

There is a tremendous battle for men's time, especially their leisure time. Every night we are futile victims of the "goggle box", a steady diet of death, drama, drivel and Daz. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to read the right kind of book which will be of advantage to them in their work and in broadening their minds. I disagree with those who say that novels should be readily available. It is a matter of individual taste, but when I get a book token, although I have the greatest difficulty deciding how to use it, I never use it to buy a novel. I want something which will last reasonably well and be of a personal interest.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

I know that my hon. Friend is a greater lover of Tam O'Shanter. Surely that is the same kind of thing.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

If I want Tam O'Shanter, I buy an edition of Burns. Very few Tam O'Shanters are produced. I agree that it is a poetic narrative tale and if my hon. Friend will produce for me a novel which becomes as much of a classic, I shall be prepared to buy it.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

Can we have a few stanzas?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

There are some very odd stanzas, but The hour approaches … and I maun get on with my speech. We want students to resist the influence of these passive pressures, and reasonable expenditure on the libraries of the training colleges offers one of the easiest ways to do it. It would be criminal not to take the chance. It would be criminal, in the new and expanding programme for our training colleges, not properly to furnish them.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland has been pushing at an open door tonight and that he will have a ready response from the Minister which we shall see translated into tangible terms in an increased amount of money and attention devoted to our training college libraries.

9.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr Brian O'Malley Mr Brian O'Malley , Rotherham

I apologise for not having been able to attend the whole debate, and I welcome the opportunity now to make a brief contribution. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) on raising a subject of such importance for our country's future.

It is fashionable nowadays, perhaps because a General Election is approaching and because teachers form a substantial and influential part of the electorate, to say how important the teaching profession is. Some hon. Members opposite have only just realised it. Nevertheless, it is vital, if we wish ours to be a really dynamic civilisation, that we should, have not only a well paid and numerically sufficient teaching profession but also a highly educated one. We all agree that the standard of the profession must be high. The period of training in the training colleges has recently been extended from two to three years, and we all welcome this. Yet we are sending students to training colleges—when they can get a place—which lack the basic equipment to train them to be efficient teachers.

My hon. Friend referred to the number of books in libraries revealed by the questionnaire in 1961, and he said that there was talk about the need to have 20,000 books in a training college library. My hon. Friend's estimate was 15,000. Even if we could reach 15,000 or 20,000, I would still regard this, compared with what can be found in university libraries and the libraries of some of our older and larger boroughs, as inadequate. Nevertheless, it would be a reasonable aim. How can we expect teachers or training college students to reach the required standard if they have not the books which they need?

A few weeks ago, I spoke to a young student, a girl whom I had taught before I came to the House, about what books she had. She was reading history, among other things, at a training college. I found that she was using a couple of text books and was then going to our own little urban district council library to see whether she could find something else or order other books. She told me that there were not very many books available in the library of the college where she was a student. It is often peculiarly difficult for students in training colleges to get hold of the books they need, because, unlike the universities, many training colleges are not in the large centres of population.

As a former teacher and lecturer, I have always believed that, in order to reach a reasonable standard of education and culture so that they could become efficient teachers, people need books. I remember the very wise words of Sir Lewis Namier, at one time Professor Modern History at Manchester and later, I believe, in charge of research for the official history of Parliament which is now coming out. He told the story of a student who attended all his lectures, took down all the facts religiously in shorthand and had them typed out, learned them all by heart, read nothing else, then answered the questions in the examination papers and failed dismally. Anyone concerned with education, of course, appreciates the fundamental fact that lectures are no substitute for reading.

One of the fundamental difficulties is that there are far too many training colleges with libraries which are neither able to cope with the demands which should be made upon them nor able to give students a true indication of the path to learning. It is a cliché that for human beings education is what is left when one thinks one has forgotten all the facts one has ever learned. The hallmark of an educated man is not his encyclopaedic grasp of a large number of facts but his knowledge of where to find the information which he requires. This technique is developed only by a period in a scholastic and academic atmosphere where one is in constant contact with books.

I mentioned earlier the location of many training colleges in England, and I suppose also in Scotland, as being not in the large centres of population as are our universities. We have a university at Manchester where there is also a library. In addition there is the old borough library formed in the 1830s and the magnificent John Rylands Library which contains a wonderful collection. Apart front the university library at Liverpool, there is a good civic library, as Liverpool was one of the first towns to develop a civic library. There is a very good library in Sheffield, with one of the finest collections of local records in the country.

Where training colleges are in the large centres of population, even though there may not be an adequate college library, the students can use the civic library in the evenings and at week-ends. I worked for a long time in the Central Library in Sheffield, where one could see students from training colleges doing their work and studying. But in respect of the many training colleges which are situated in the country, often in old stately homes, the situation is different. Often the colleges are a lengthy bus ride from any large centre and the bus service is inadequate. The students are part of a community which should be a little community of would-be scholars because in many ways the ideal student conforms with the old description of a seeker after knowledge, although many people do not attain that standard. They are cloistered in communities in the middle of the countryside, and in the case of some women's training colleges "cloistered" is the right word to use. The facilities available for reading which should form the most important part of their community life are inadequate.

The universities are more fortunate. The old European universities have developed from the Middle Ages and have magnificent libraries. The new universities are generally situated in large industrial towns. Our aim should be to ensure that teacher training colleges—I do not like the term "training colleges" because they are the same as universities—should have the same facilities. I am perturbed by the number of students at training colleges who have come from the newer grammar schools and often from homes where reading is not an integral part of their home life. They are not used to books. Many of the newer grammar schools do not have libraries. They have rooms which they call libraries, with very few books, and their book allowances are generally inadequate. With the best will in the world, the teachers at such grammar schools cannot inculcate the use and regard for books which one would like to see.

Therefore, people go into the teaching profession having moved from homes in which often little reading is done. They go into the newer grammar schools, which have no libraries worth mentioning. Education merely by textbook is one of the failings of the system of examination at "O" level of the G.C.E. Far too much work is done simply by textbook. The students move into grammar schools, where the books are inadequate or out of date, and they are lucky to get an Encyclopœdia Britannica which is not three or four editions old. At training college, there is the same kind of situation and after three years there they go out to teach.

If there is one thing for which teachers have responsibility, it is to introduce and to give their pupils regard for and love of the use of books. One cannot expect to reach the ideal standards unless the students going through the colleges have the facilities which they should have. Having listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, it seems that far too many training colleges do not have those facilities, and I hope that this debate will serve a useful purpose by spotlighting that glaring deficiency in the educational system.

9.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Lewisham North

The House will be grateful to the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) for initiating this debate. I imagine that he will have been as pleasantly surprised as I was to discover that what was intended to be a quiet half-hour's Adjournment debate on libraries in the teacher training colleges of England and Wales should have spilt out into the great multi-racial affair to which we have been treated tonight.

The debate has at times ranged widely. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) found a moment or two in which to deplore that so many people today were victims of the "goggle box". Whatever criticism is made of Scottish Members who sit on the benches opposite, I have never heard it argued that they run away to watch television in the evenings when they might be here debating.

I sincerely welcome the opportunity to speak on this subject, because a major effort has been made in recent years. My right hon. Friend, like many hon. Members who have spoken tonight, attaches the highest importance to libraries as being at the heart of training college work, and substantial resources are going into their development and improvement. During the last two years particularly, much attention has been devoted to these libraries and the bodies maintaining the colleges have been encouraged to improve library book stocks, staffing and accommodation.

I have been impressed, as any who visit the new and remodelled teacher training colleges must be, by the fact that often the finest feature of these new buildings is the library. That is as it should be, because the library must fulfil a key rôle in a teacher training college, not only because of its value as a means of personal study, but as an essential instrument for the professional training of the students by the teachers. A number of hon. Members have made this point during the debate.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland has, I know, seen a copy of the Report prepared by a group of Her Majesty's inspectors in 1961 on this subject and he referred to it during his speech. The Report pointed in another passage to the way in which the schools over recent years have been turning towards, as the Report puts it, ways of teaching which depend upon the individual's use of a library.

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) made this point and emphasised the importance of this trend. On an entirely informal, unannounced visit to a primary school the other day, it was surprising to me to find children of seven and eight years of age making use in some free minutes of the small school library, quite unsupervised. This is a trend of importance in the schools. In addition to the importance of a library to any institution of higher education, there is in the case of the teacher training colleges this important professional reason for students to have good library facilities and to appreciate their worth.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland put to me a number of detailed questions. He was concerned with clerical assistance, as have been a number of hon. Members who have spoken. In answers given to Questions earlier this year, my right hon. Friend was able to give the hon. Member some information. There is no additional information that I can give on the local education authority colleges. As for the voluntary training colleges, I would refer hon. Members who have raised the question to the list which was given in an Answer to a Question by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland on 29th May.

While I can give no further statistics today, my right hon. Friend has made it clear in tie House that colleges could make provision for more clerical staff without putting specific proposals to the Ministry. He has stressed that in so far as this is a matter for him he is anxious to see proper clerical assistance provided whenever it is needed.

In paragraph 40 of the 1961 Report, to which I have already referred, the authors have this to say on the subject of clerical work: There is necessarily a good deal of clerical work in a library. There are book orders to be compiled and invoices checked.… We believe that a librarian will not have the time to develop and make effective the kind of library that we have in mind unless he is relieved of this clerical work; nor is such work a proper use of the time of a qualified lecturer or librarian. The appointment of a clerical assistant to the library, even if only part-time, is preferable in our view to an arrangement by which typing and other work for the library is done in the college office. I agree with those sentiments.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland directed considerable attention to the number of books which we may rightly expect to find in the libraries of our teacher training colleges. The Library Association produced not long ago a memorandum in conjunction with the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education. That memorandum recommended that 20,000 volumes should be regarded as a minimum number. The 1961 Report does not include a global figure of this kind and hon. Members will appreciate that the requirements in different colleges must vary considerably. Yet if one studies paragraph 24 of the Report, about the size of the component elements of a book stock, it will be seen that the recommendation in the 1961 Report broadly tallies with—

It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. MacArthur.]

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Lewisham North

We need not argue between the two sets of recommendations because they are entirely compatible, and if the Libraries Association has suggested that 20,000 is a suitable total for the library of a teacher training college, that as a broad estimate is not a figure with which I would quarrel because it corresponds very closely to the arithmetic in the 1961 H.M.I. Report. It is towards this sort of total that teacher training colleges are working.

The second point I wish to make on the subject of building up and maintaining book stocks is this. The H.M.I. Report recommended two kinds of grant—a non-recurring grant spread over a period up to 10 years to enable each college to obtain the minimum book stock appropriate to its needs, and an annual grant to maintain its collection in working order.

No cost figure was given for the nonrecurring grant, but for the annual grant the Report said that in terms of 1960 prices no college ought to spend less than £500 per annum on library books and that a college of about 400 students should receive a grant of £800 in addition to the grant of £100 for periodicals. One or two hon. Members have laid stress on the importance of providing journals and periodicals in these libraries and they will be glad to see that the advice tendered includes a reference to periodicals.

As the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland has suggested, there is a difference here between the advice that has been tendered to the teacher training colleges in the 1961 Report and the advice in the Libraries Association memorandum. The memorandum recommended in terms of January, 1961, prices an annual book fund based on £4 per student and £10 per member of staff. That works out at £4·9 per student and is a figure higher than the recommendation contained in the H.M.I. Report.

The fact that the latter figure is lower results largely from the view that books are likely to have a longer useful life and be less likely to get lost or damaged in a college library serving a closed and select community than in most other kinds of library. At the same time, the H.M.I. Report says that experience may show that a larger figure for the annual grant may be required, and certainly over the build-up that is taking place during this decade we shall watch that figure and review it as necessary.

The local education authority colleges and voluntary colleges are financed quite differently. The local education authorities maintain their colleges, their expenditure being pooled among all authorities, whereas the Ministry pays direct the whole of the maintenance of the voluntary colleges. We could, therefore, commend to authorities only the recommendations of the Report about non-recurring and annual recurring grants.

We can only check how much they have spent on libraries in the normal course of events when we receive their accounts, which may be up to one year after the end of each financial year. But I can say that the voluntary colleges were specifically asked for their proposals for implementing the recommendations, and in some instances where it seemed to us that the proposals might be too modest, steps were taken to indicate that we should be prepared to accept something more if the college saw fit to propose it.

The only figures that I can give to the House tonight to show the effect of the Report are these. Expenditure on books at local education authority general colleges increased from £81,000 in 1961–62 to an estimated £125,000 in 1962–63 and at the voluntary colleges from £53,000 to an estimataed £86,000. It will be seen that in this year there has been a very substantial increase in expenditure, and that is a trend that we must expect to continue. Not only is the population of our teacher training colleges expanding very rapidly in England and Wales, but the demands placed upon the libraries of the teacher training colleges by the three year course may well be commensurately greater.

Hon. Members, in particular the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, have asked for more data about the libraries in the teacher training colleges. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland drew a number of blanks in his last batch of Questions to my right hon. Friend. He will, I think, appreciate that the Ministry must strike a balance about the amount of information that we can require, particularly from local education authority colleges with whom we have no direct financial link, but it is sensible, of course, from time to time to take stock, and my right hon. Friend has issued instructions that we should ask for a special return from local education authorities maintaining colleges to obtain information about the employment of tutor librarians and professionally qualified librarians. We were able to give information early last year on this subject.

I entirely agree with what has been said by hon. Members this evening as to the importance of ensuring that there is a qualified librarian, a fully professional librarian or a tutor librarian in charge of the libraries at the teacher training colleges. We shall, therefore, be seeking further information from the colleges as to developments in this respect.

The hon. Member has put to me some other demands for information which I will certainly consider. He has suggested that we might have published in the statistics of education further details so that we may judge how this build-up of the libraries in the teacher training colleges is going. This is certainly a suggestion to which we will give thought. When further information is available about the employment of librarians in the training colleges, I will ensure that he has it.

The only other broad topic raised tonight that was directly relevant to the libraries in these colleges, was that of space. A number of hon. Members urged that libraries should be pleasant places, that they should be congenial, and that students should be attracted into them. The 1961 Report recommended as a minimum that there should be seating accommodation for one-fifth of the student body, with 32 sq. ft. of space per seat— that is, including tables and bookcases. The Library Association memorandum had some more generous recommendations, though these were not set as a minimum. It recommended seating accommodation for one-quarter of the staff and students, with 40 sq. ft. of space per seat.

In all colleges that have expanded, or are in course of expansion, we have provided far either one-fifth of the number of students at 40 sq. ft. per seat, or one-quarter of the number at 32 sq. ft. In addition, nearly all have English or other lecture rooms associated with them—usually en suite, so to speak. Large study-bedrooms in which a high proportion of resident students do their reading are also provided, and a special study area is usually provided for day students. It will therefore be seen that substantial efforts are being made to improve the amenities in training college libraries.

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock hoped that his hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland would find that he was pressing at an open door, and I can assure him that that is the case. In recent years, considerable attention has been devoted by the Ministry of Education to this topic. We believe that the libraries must be a key feature of the expanding teacher training colleges, and where there are new needs or new deficiencies I can assure the House that applicants will find in my right hon. Friend a sympathetic and forthcoming attitude.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at thirteen minutes past Ten o'clock.