What makes a Great School Library?

The relationship between reading attainment and reading for pleasure is dynamic and reciprocal, and school library staff can impact attainment by identifying barriers to reading, having specialist knowledge about which books suit which child, and supporting teachers in developing their reading environments.

Critical literacy is an essential skill in today’s world – the ability to evaluate information and entertainment sources is something no young person should be without, and the skills that allow them to do this also allow them to play an active role in society. Library staff have been specialists in this area for decades, teaching children how to find, evaluate and use information effectively and ethically – now there is a new air of urgency, and library staff have the knowledge and resources to empower pupils and support teachers in this vital area.

But great school libraries are also about space – a space that provides safety and comfort, a space that welcomes all pupils, and gives all equal access. A space that questions, and entices, and excites. A space where all children are free to travel on their learning journey and are supported and inspired by a knowledgeable specialist.

There are some libraries where these things aren’t happening, and this is a shame – both for those children who won’t get those experiences or knowledge, and for those teachers who lack support at a time when they need it. Part of this campaign will be about supporting staff (both library and teachers), and providing guidance on useful articles, places to start and where to go next, to ensure that all libraries are fulfilling their potential. However, it is important to note that in some schools Library Assistants have been employed on their own – we are not expecting them to take on the role of a Librarian/Library Manager. Nor are we expecting library staff who are under-supported or underpaid to start taking on more work. Through the campaign we will be raising expectations and understanding about the profession, and making decision makers aware of exactly what is missing when the school library languishes. This increase in understanding will lead to better access to CPD, salaries to match the role and a higher level of accountability, which will provide the best education for pupils, and support for staff.

Alison Tarrant, CE of SLA and Chair of Great School Libraries working party

Peters are the official sponsor of Great School Libraries!








Last week saw the launch of the Great School Libraries campaign – a three year campaign spearheaded by SLA, CILIP SLG and CILIP. The campaign has three aims: to secure school library funding; to produce a national framework for school libraries and recognition of school libraries within the Ofsted framework.

We are truly excited to announce that we have been able to secure funding for the Great School Libraries campaign for the entirety of its duration from Peters, the UK’s leading specialist supplier of books and furniture for schools, academies, and public libraries.

Ray Dyer, Peters’ Managing Director commented: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Great School Libraries campaign. At Peters, we understand the importance of ensuring children and young people have access to great books and a vibrant school library is an essential part of this. We are looking forward to working with the School Library Association and CILIP to ensure that every child has access to a great school library.”

Alison Tarrant, Chair of the Great School Libraries campaign working group said: “We are delighted to be working with Peters on this campaign. They understand the difference that a staffed and funded school library can make to school, and securing this funding means that we are not restricted, and will focus on producing meaningful resources and maximising engagement. Together they will enable the sector to move forward, and mark the beginning of a new era for school libraries.”

We all have a role to play in ensuring every child receives the benefits a Great School Library can offer.

To find out more about Peters, visit: https://peters.co.uk/

Welcome to the Great School Libraries Campaign!


Today sees the launch of the Great School Libraries campaign – a three year campaign spearheaded by CILIP, SLG and SLA. The campaign has three aims:

  • to secure school library funding
  • to produce a national framework for school libraries
  • recognition of school libraries within the Ofsted framework

The Campaign working group will be aiming to engage all potential stakeholders – whether that’s school library staff, parents, and school leadership or decision makers in government. All children deserve a great school library because adequately funded, staffed school libraries deliver enhanced and independent learning as well as reading and curriculum support.

Evidence also suggests school libraries:

  • Lead to higher qualifications/attainment
  • Promote a better quality of life
  • Generate improved results
  • Alleviate pressure on health and mental health services
  • Alleviate teacher workload
  • Increase efficiency for schools
  • Contribute to the delivery of a well-rounded education
  • Deliver and teach essential Information/critical literacy skills to combat fake news and engender independent learning

Throughout the course of the campaign the School Library Data Group will be collecting evidence in order to show the huge variety of ways that UK based school libraries contribute to better outcomes for every child. Go to the Resources tab to download a Case Studies Template and an exemplar.  We need as many of these as we can get, so that we can provide enough evidence of how school libraries add value to a school – please consider filling one in for us.