Why School Libraries Matter

Student Reading in Library
Category: Reading

School libraries and librarians matter. They matter because they inspire reading for pleasure and improve literacy. They matter because they help pupils understand the deluge of information and news they face every day. They matter because they support teachers to deliver the curriculum by providing the required resources. They matter because schools with school libraries and librarians achieve higher exam scores, leading to higher academic attainment, higher quality project work and more positive attitudes towards learning and increased motivation and self-esteem among pupils. They matter because they provide a safe, inclusive space.

[School Libraries] matter because they help pupils understand the deluge of information and news they face every day

The role of the school librarian was recently described by Scottish Book Trust's CEO Marc Lambert as “not just someone who handles the bureaucracy of issuing a book. They are, in fact, a guide, a co-conspirator, a friend, and a companion who will lead you to a life that is enriched immeasurably by all the pleasure and knowledge that is to be found in books – which is to say, the whole of life, really.” This description captures perfectly one of the many ways in which librarians in schools make a difference to people’s lives.

Just last month, the Scottish Government confirmed that it was moving forwards with a school library strategy in Scotland, the first of its kind in the UK. The contents of the strategy will become clear over the next year but it is an important step in the right direction and shows the importance of school libraries within educational reforms.

A librarian is a guide, a co-conspirator, a friend

Librarians can make a huge difference within a school. Take, for example, the recent winner of the Scottish Book Trust Learning Professional of the Year Award, Susan Morton. Susan has created a strong reading and writing culture in Inverclyde Academy and encouraged many reluctant readers. In a short space of time she has transformed the library space, improved access times, brought in local authors, quadrupled stock, delivered information literacy sessions and much, much more. This wonderful video captures her impact.

There are many more examples, such as Elgin Academy’s Paired Reading Project that encourages reading fluency and comprehension, the Reading with Dogs initiative in Speyside or the Information Literacy support at Hazlehead Academy and Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell. These are innovative and vital projects led by librarians and there are numerous others across Scotland featured on the CILIPS website and here on Scottish Book Trust's website. These fantastic projects and the skilled people that deliver them are essential as part of educational delivery in schools.

Recently, school libraries have seen a number of damaging cuts. One authority even removed all school librarian posts.

Recently, school libraries have seen a number of damaging cuts such as schools sharing librarians or reducing hours, and one authority even removed all school librarian posts. This trend cannot continue if the Government’s ambition for Scotland to be the best place to grow up and learn is to be achieved. At CILIPS we believe that professional school librarians are integral to the realisation of this aim and high-quality learning opportunities should include access for all school pupils to a professionally trained librarian and information expert located within the school and available throughout the school day.

School libraries and librarians matter more than ever and need to be supported.

Click here to read one of Sean's previous blogs on why libraries matter in the digital age. 

Photo credit: Falkirk Council

Sean McNamara

Sean McNamara is the Policy and Digital officer for the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland. Sean previously worked in public libraries for five years as a People’s Network and Learning Services Librarian.

Subscribe to our monthly e-updates for book lovers