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Blog post

One Thousand Libraries

07 May 2024

We’ve created 1,000 libraries!

Tuesday 7 May 2024 marked a double celebration for the National Literacy Trust as we opened the 1,000th primary school library in our Libraries for Primaries campaign.

The library opened at Moreland Primary School in Islington, London also became the 50th primary school library in The Coronation Libraries Project. Our Patron, Her Majesty Queen Camilla was a very special guest at the opening which marked the first anniversary of the 2023 Coronation.

Co-founded by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Books in 2021, the Libraries for Primaries campaign brings together charities, publishers and businesses to address the lack of investment in primary school libraries, particularly in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities where 1 in 4 primary schools don’t have a library.

Reaching this major milestone in our Libraries for Primaries campaign surely deserves a commemorative poem?

One thousand wells of dreams

Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho kindly put pen to paper to create a celebratory poem called One Thousand Libraries which beautifully captures the wonder of discovering a new book, how this can open up otherwise unexpected ambitions and dreams for some children, the escapism of reading for pleasure and the magical quality possessed by libraries to provide all children with access to this experience.

We hope you love reading Joseph’s poem in full at the end of this article.

One thousand thickets of imagination

“A library in a primary school is not only a wonderful resource and repository of books, it is an oasis, a special, magical place where children can discover more about themselves, their inner worlds and the world beyond their front door.”

Joseph Coelho

Not only are the libraries a practical and invaluable resource for primary schools, they are the "portal" to imagination and possibility. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover the wonder of reading for pleasure.

As we mark this monumental milestone, we can say that over 380,000 primary-aged children across the UK now have access to books in a way that they didn’t before. We know there is real value and impact in the power of children enjoying reading. Access to a well-curated, well-loved library space in their primary school provides this life-changing opportunity for all children, whatever their postcode or circumstances.

So, let's celebrate our libraries

Let’s celebrate the 1,000 new library spaces of "sanctuary" which provide new opportunities to "open a thousand doors" for children across the UK.

Let’s celebrate the 2,000 teachers and support staff who have been trained so far to run the libraries, foster a love of reading in their schools and support thousands of children to discover a world of possibilities outside the library's four walls.

Let’s take a moment to think about all the stories crammed into the 440,000 books generously donated by Penguin Books to these primary schools.

Let’s celebrate these one thousand libraries, and not stop until every UK primary school has a dedicated library or library space by 2028.

Download Joseph Coelho's poem

Read a new and exclusive poem by Joseph Coelho

One Thousand Libraries

One thousand libraries newly created

where there were none before.

One thousand homes to books,

one thousand temples to explore.

One thousand wells of dreams,

one thousand silos of stories,

one thousand places to sit

- to be thrilled by something gory!

One thousand thickets of imagination,

one thousand portals to past ages,

one thousand galaxies of new worlds,

one thousand palaces of pages.

This thousand is just one step

and we shall make thousands more

for every school must have a library

every library opens a thousand doors.

Every librarian is a games master

and everyone can play -

get lost in quantum physics

discover the works of Monet.

But what of those schools

where no library pulses its power!

What happens to those students

with no books to pass the hours?

With no poets to please them,

no illustrators inking unknown lands,

no facts being savoured,

no stories held in eager hands.

What happens to the pupil

without the sanctuary of stories?

What happens in a world

where only some read of glory?

What happens when words can't be trusted?

When knowledge comes at a price?

What happens to humanity

when truth is a game of dice?

These fears are the ogres,

the wicked witch and the voice in the dark.

Each library defeats these villains,

each library thickens our bark,

each library lengthens our roots.

A thousand libraries sprout

ten thousand brand-new shoots.

So, let's celebrate our libraries

and use them all we can.

Let's borrow all the books,

let's explore with ink-stained hands.

Here's to one thousand libraries -

and thousands more to come.

Let reading be our medicine

let libraries be our sun.

Untitled copyright © Joseph Coelho 2024. Reproduced by kind permission of Joseph Coelho c/o Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency Ltd.

Are you a primary school librarian or teacher?

If you are a primary school teacher or librarian who would like to know more, read our Library Lifeline blog series for more information on how to get the best out of your library spaces.

Alternatively, discover our Libraries for Primaries programme and Diverse Libraries Webinar series.

Are you a primary school without a library?

If you work in a primary school that does not have a library and you would love your pupils to benefit from our Libraries for Primaries programme, we'd love to hear from you. Visit and complete the form to be added to our programme waiting list for 2024 to 2025 (academic year).

How we are lobbying government to make a difference

Our work in primary school libraries is a key strategic priority for us as we continue to ensure that literacy is a priority for national and local government policy. Read the National Literacy Trust 2024 Manifesto to find out more.

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