Statutory School Libraries

27 04 2010

Like our colleagues in the UK, school libraries with qualified teacher librarians, may have to be made statutory for states to effectively support Quality Teaching and Literacy, in all its forms.

We go to the Sydney hearing today with this as the ultimate objective: a qualified teacher librarian in every government school, full time (or Full Time Equivalent) in the library.

UK Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Manifesto 2010 Supporting Paper 1 on Statutory School Libraries. See


Supporting Paper 1: Statutory School Libraries


1.            Throughout their education, children are entitled to

  • A safe and secure library environment for learning during and outside school hours
  • High quality and wide-ranging library and classroom resources to support their curriculum
  • Support from designated library staff with extensive knowledge and experience to advise, encourage and inspire wider reading and reading for pleasure
  • Access to professional librarians with the responsibility and time to help children foster the skills needed to become lifelong learners and independent thinkers.

2.        There is a common misconception that school librarianship is simply about the provision of books and equipment. In fact, good school libraries are an integral part of the teaching and learning process in schools and make a vital contribution to delivering the national curriculum. However, far too often school library development plans detail the space and resources to be provided but fail to give similar attention to the skills required of library staff. Research in this area has clearly shown that schools with a qualified librarian and a good school library achieve better results than those without.

3.        School teaching teams benefit from access to library staff and library professionals who are an integral part of the school and who

§                                                                          Understand the curriculum and pastoral needs of teaching staff and who will support these with managed resources;

§                                                                          Collaborate with staff on curriculum planning and become involved in teaching;

§                                                                          Develop partnership working with other key organisations within and beyond the school

4. Qualified school librarians help ensure that pupils receive training in information literacy so that they can become increasingly independent in their learning. The government’s vision for the future of education is to develop lifelong learners who are confident and capable users of information. Qualified school librarians also help ensure that pupils receive adequate encouragement to read for pleasure with its inbuilt personal and psychological benefits. A love of reading has been found to be a more accurate indicator of success and life chances than socio-economic grouping (UNESCO, 2004). A higher profile needs to be given to reading for pleasure. Librarians are uniquely placed to help teaching colleagues refresh their own knowledge of literature. All this enables young people to be roundly and well equipped to participate fully in the 21st century.

5.        A school library with qualified library staff is as much part of a child’s entitlement to a decent education as a school curriculum with qualified teaching staff. But, less than a third of secondary schools have a trained librarian. Just as it is a statutory duty to employ qualified teachers and deliver the national curriculum, so it should be a statutory duty to provide school libraries with qualified librarians as an essential part of every child’s entitlement to a decent education.

6.        CILIP, however, recognises the scale of achieving statutory school libraries, which is why the Manifesto calls for an action plan to bring them about during the lifetime of the next Parliament. One important aspect of this will be a workforce development programme. This is where some substance has to be given to “skilled library professionals”. As CILIP we would expect to promote the value of the CILIP professional qualification. At the least we need to be very clear about the skills mix of a school librarian and how that will be accredited. It will take time to build up the current school library workforce.

7.        Some relevant work is already under way. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the National Literacy Trust have established a School Library Commission, with Estelle Morris as Chair, to examine the future of school library provision in England. The Commission only came into being in January 2010 but is likely to asking what needs to happen to create a sustainable and valued school library and school library service in the next ten years.


March 2010




One response

8 09 2010
New government formed at last. Two more coming up soon:-) « The Hub

[…] Should we be working on making school libraries statutory as happened in Washington state, or is the object of the UK campaign. […]

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