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2021 School Library Survey Report Australia


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The Australian School Library Survey, conducted by Softlink on behalf of the school library sector, examines key trends and issues impacting school libraries.

This report provides survey findings with a breakdown of findings for Catholic, Government, and Independent schools.

Points for analysis include annual school library budgets and staffing levels as well as the use of digital resources in school libraries, school library services, trends, and other key factors important to school libraries.  

The results help to advocate the role of school libraries and library professionals to education decision makers, as well as through industry associations and networks.  

To download the full report, visit our resources page

About the Survey

In 2010, the Australian Federal Government requested submissions to the ‘Inquiry into school libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian schools’. Softlink undertook a survey of Australian school libraries to provide data which enabled a unique and informed response to the Inquiry.  

Since then, in an effort to highlight the issues and opportunities school libraries are experiencing, Softlink has continued to survey Australian schools annually and extended this to include New Zealand and UK schools in 2015. Continuing the annual surveys helps to build a critical reference point for understanding changes, impacts, and trends over time.

The 2021 Softlink Australian School Library Survey was released August 18, 2021 and closed September 30, 2021. Invitations to participate were extended to all schools (including schools that are not Softlink customers) in Australia via email, Twitter, LinkedIn, OZTL_Net, and promoted by a number of our partners, associates, and school library groups.  

Despite the challenges of COVID and lockdowns in some states, we are pleased to share that there were 1595 participants.

Key findings Summary

  • 55% of respondents indicated that they think their school library budget is adequate.
  • 47% indicated that they think their school library is adequately staffed.
  • 59% of respondents reported that their library budget had not changed from the previous year, 14% reported it had increased, and 27% reported it had decreased.
  • 67% of respondents reported no change to their staffing levels from the previous year, 7% reported it had increased, and 26% reported a decrease.
  • COVID-19 was attributed as a reason for both budget and staffing decreases.
  • When asked about their school library space, respondents reported that the following best describes their library:
    • Classroom library/libraries: 2%
    • Designated library area in an open-plan space: 17%
    • Designated library in a separate room/classroom/floor/building: 74%
    • Shared space: 7%
  • The top 3 responsibilities of school library staff (over and above managing the collection) were:
    • Curating relevant information and resources to support the curriculum (59%)
    • Providing regular timetabled library lessons (52%)
    • Performing a teaching role (45%)
  • The top 3 avenues school library staff use to promote the library and resources were:
    • School library displays (91%)
    • In the school newsletter (51%)
    • Via the Library Management System (42%)
  • When asked about the level of support the school library receives from the Senior Leadership Team, 41% of respondents reported a high to very high level of support, 33% reported a moderate level of support, and 26% reported a low to very low level of support.
  • When asked about the level of teacher engagement with the library, 32% of respondents reported a high to very high level of engagement, 47% reported a moderate level of engagement, and 21% reported a low to very low level of support.
  • When asked about the level of student engagement with the library, 59% of respondents reported a high to very high level of engagement, 32% reported a moderate level of engagement, and 9% reported a low to very low level of support.

To download the full report, visit our resources page

Thank you

Thank you to everyone that participated in the 2021 Australian School Library Survey.

The survey results provide a critical reference point for changes, impacts, and trends across school libraries in Australia. Softlink will continue to work with industry associations to help advocate the role of school libraries and teacher librarians to Education Ministers, departments, and decision makers, as well as through industry networks.

Your willingness to participate and share information about your school library means that we can continue to provide this valuable, annual analysis of school libraries.

We would also like to thank all the School Library Associations and Partners that assisted in the promotion of the Survey…

ALIA logo
OZTL-net
QSLA
scis logo
SLAV
Students need school libraries
SLASA

While every care is taken to include all promoters of the survey, please do contact us if we have missed you so we can update this page.

Softlink is proud to continue to sponsor and grow this initiative. We are always looking for ways to improve and refine the School Library Survey and associated reports and whitepapers. If you would like to offer feedback, please email communications@softlinkint.com.

Additional resources

The Softlink School Library Surveys are used to produce a range reports and feature documents to help inform and support school library staff and the greater school community. A selection of these has been included below, to view more visit softlinkint.com/resources/reports-and-whitepapers/

School libraries share: What I would change

This feature shares comments from the 2020 survey, highlighting what respondents would like to change about their library or role.

School libraries share: Library love

This feature shares comments from the 2014 – 2020 surveys demonstrating the love and passion school library staff have and what they love most about coming to work. It also shares comments that demonstrate the love the school has for the library.

School libraries share ideas for promoting the library

Published in 2019, this feature is based on responses to the question “What practices are in place or what ideas do you have to promote the library, the services it provides, or the role and skills of the school library staff in your school?” in the 2018 School Library Surveys.

From the Principal’s desk – reflections on the school library

This feature shares collated comments from the 2014 – 2020 School Library Surveys and represent the voice of school Principals in Australia in Australia as they reflect on the value of their library and library staff, as well as changes they would make to the library.

We are always looking for ways to improve and refine the School Library Survey and associated reports and whitepapers. If you would like to offer feedback, please email communications@softlinkint.com


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