Creating a virtual school library

Students using their laptops.

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Create a virtual school library to engage readers and support learning with a dynamic website — using your school’s website or intranet, your Integrated Library System's web platform, or a stand-alone site linked to your school's website.

What is a virtual school library?

A virtual school library is an online space, available 24/7, that is an extension of your physical library. Through your virtual library, users can find and access your digital materials. It can bring together content that you've sourced from different places. Your virtual library can also offer online help and support for your school community.

Through an online presence, librarians can apply and translate their traditional skills for instruction, professional development, reference, collection development, and administration in powerful new ways, in engaging new landscapes. They can offer 24/7 accessibility and ‘just-in-time’, ‘just-for-me’ learning opportunities.
— Joyce Valenza's blog School library websites Part 1: A tour of high school practice

Website options for your virtual library

There are 2 basic options for building your virtual school library:

  • operating from within the school’s website or intranet.
  • operating a stand-alone website that links back to, and from, the school website or intranet — use your catalogue's web OPAC if your Integrated Library System enables this functionality.

Each of these options has a range of benefits and issues, which your planning team needs to consider.

Forms of website presence: Benefits and issues (pdf, 183KB) has a chart to help you compare stand-alone or integrated website options.

Using the full functionality of your Integrated Library System (ILS)

Learning Management Systems (LMS) — Te Kete Ipurangi.

Resources to help get you started

These resources include advice, design tips, and how-to instructions for setting up your virtual school library website:

When you're setting up your library website, it's important to be aware of internet protocols, internet safety, and your school’s social media policy.

Understanding digital literacy

Developing digital citizenship

Suggested content for your virtual library

Your virtual library might include:

  • eBooks
  • content you've curated from the internet
  • digital content created and shared by members of your school community
  • support and services that your library offers online
  • information and news about your library.

Website content ideas (pdf, 205KB) — contains detailed suggestions about the type of content that you can use to connect and engage with members of your school community.

Social media and the school library — includes links to ideas for content you can create and share with your school community using social media.

Find inspiration for your virtual school library

Take a look at some examples of New Zealand and Australian school library websites to inspire your own one.

Primary and intermediate schools

Raroa Normal Intermediate School Library — this Wellington school has a stand-alone website built with Weebly, a free platform.

Southwell School Library — the library site is integrated with this Hamilton school's website. The librarian has also set up accounts for the library on Facebook and Instagram.

Auburn North Primary School — this Australian school has a highly visual site as 97% of their student population is from non-English speaking backgrounds and a third of their students are refugees.

Secondary schools

Golden Bay High School library — based in Takaka, this school has a library page integrated with the school's website.

Mt Roskill Grammar — this Auckland school's website links to their stand-alone library website.

Brisbane Grammar, Queensland — has a stand-alone school library website built using the Libguides platform.

Scotch College, Melbourne — has a stand-alone school library website.