Why school libraries matter

Two boys reading in their school library.

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School libraries matter because they can help every member of your school community — students, staff, families, and whānau — gain new knowledge, skills, and dispositions for learning and personal development that they will use throughout their lives.

What makes an effective school library?

The school library is a central hub supporting every student and staff member, as well as parents and whānau. The library combines several elements — library staff, resources, and space. Each of these plays an important part in supporting teaching and learning. School libraries are most effective when these elements combine to form an integrated whole.

An effective school library:

  • improves student outcomes — collections developed for your unique school community enrich reading and learning programmes
  • welcomes people in — the library is a safe place, that values and includes students from different cultures and backgrounds
  • brings people and information together — connections with other libraries and information sources enhance your library’s collections, and help your library staff help users find what they need
  • embodies the principles of ‘learner agency’ — students having the independence to choose their own reading, and to find resources that help them develop their interests and strengths at their own pace
  • helps close the education gap — for students who might otherwise be disadvantaged, the library can provide access to the stories, information, and technology they need.

Purpose of the school library

2002 Guidelines

In 2002, the National Library and the Ministry of Education developed guidelines to help principals, teachers, boards of trustees and library teams support student learning by developing their school libraries. There have been significant developments in school libraries since then, but many schools still find these guidelines useful.

The school library and learning in the information landscape: guidelines for New Zealand schools (pdf, 799KB) — Ministry of Education and National Library of New Zealand. (2002)

School libraries make a difference

The research shows clear links from school libraries and library staff to improvements in student’s reading and academic success. School libraries are fundamental to developing engaged readers who have the capability and inclination to read and learn beyond their years at school. School libraries help students learn to find and use the information they need, to succeed now and in their future life and work.

School libraries impact studies — Library Research Service

School libraries matter together with reading engagement and digital literacy

We view our 3 priorities, reading engagement, school libraries, and digital literacy as interdependent and equally important in supporting student learning and literacy.

The school library and staff play a critical role in helping to create a school culture that supports and encourages reading for pleasure, and digitally literate students. Digital literacy, in turn, needs proficient and engaged readers.