Effective school libraries

The School Library Guidelines is a collection of online resources which aims to support Tasmanian school libraries. It is primarily designed to support the TALIS network which includes most Department of Education school libraries, TasTAFE Libraries, specialist Department for Education, Children and Young People libraries and Libraries Tasmania. TALIS libraries share the same library management system which enables them to circulate resources, run reports, provide an online catalogue and much more.

Effective school libraries

An effective school library enhances student learning outcomes by providing a range of programs, services and resources which support teaching and learning. It also supports and encourages students’ reading experiences.

These libraries will usually:

  • Offer quality programs that support the curriculum.
  • Help teachers integrate information literacy skills into learning activities.
  • Promote information literacy by helping students develop skills to find, evaluate, use, create and share information and knowledge.
  • Enrich student reading experiences and develop independent reading skills.
  • Support teaching and learning strategies.
  • Provide teachers with professional support.
  • Source and deliver suitable and current resources in multiple formats.
  • Maintain collections that meet the needs of the school community.
  • Use current technologies to provide easy access to information.
  • Adopt flexible design principles.
  • Offer stimulating teaching and learning environments.
  • Reflect and support the social and cultural profile of the school community.
  • Operate efficient library systems.


  • Skilled, well-trained and enthusiastic library staff.
  • Adequate time allocation for library duties.
  • Good funding levels to develop services and collections.
  • Library representation on curriculum planning groups and other school committees.
  • Educational and administrative leadership by the school principal.
  • Awareness of current library research and best practice.
  • Support from the governing body (eg Department of Education, Catholic Education Office) and library associations.

Guiding principles

Six guiding principles for school libraries are outlined in The school library and learning in the information landscape: Guidelines for New Zealand schools (2002) (pdf):

  • Information literacy: The school library is a learning environment central to the development of an information-literate school community.
  • Service: The school library is a managed centre of professional expertise and support for the school community.
  • Reading: The school library is a foundation for the school’s literacy programmes and a catalyst for the development of lifelong readers.
  • Access: The school library is a hub and interface with organised systems for accessing and managing information and resources.
  • Information resources: The school library is a provider of information resources selected to meet the curriculum and information needs of the school.
  • Place: The school library is a student-centred facility designed to play a key role in the intellectual, educational, and cultural life of the school.


Research links effective school libraries to improved student learning and academic success. A good summary is provided by Hilary Hughes in School libraries and teacher-librarians: evidence of their contribution to student literacy and learning (2013).

This suggests school libraries should have access to a qualified teacher-librarian. Teacher-librarians are a critical link between teaching and learning programs and professional library leadership.

The Students Need School Libraries campaign, an initiative of a coalition of library associations, effectively outlines the benefits of school libraries and provides links to supporting research. Watch their video Why are School Libraries so Important?

Further reading


School Library Guidelines – home page

Give feedback about the School Library Guidelines

Page updated 14/06/2023

Was this helpful?