The annual Softlink School Library Surveys ask a number of open-ended questions that provide school library staff an opportunity to share their thoughts about working in a school library. While there are those that reflect on the challenges they face, the enthusiasm and passion for their role is not only evident, but eclipse the challenges faced.
In the 2021 Australian School Library Survey, we wanted to explore this further so asked the question:
“What is the best thing about working in a school library?"
We had a fantastic response, with valuable feedback shared by school library staff across Australia. In collating these comments, the following themes emerged:
In our latest feature document, we share a selection of comments around these themes.
A summary of the responses is included below. To download the full feature, visit our resources page.
In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is fostering a love of reading, turning reluctant readers into engaged readers, connecting students with books they will love, and being part of the reading journey.
"Creating readers out of confirmed non-readers."
"The best thing about working in a school library is the opportunity to engage and enthuse students in reading quality literature. It is wonderful to talk with students about books you have recommended to them and to share ideas and thoughts on the books."
"Finding books for reluctant readers and seeing the joy when they come and ask for the next in the series!"
"Encouraging students to read by finding a book that they are so interested in it starts them on the journey of how much fun reading can be."
"Reaching that student who you finally get hooked into reading… priceless!"
In this section, library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is the engagement, relationships, and interactions they have with students and staff.
"The students are the best thing about working in a school. Seeing them develop and mature over the years is such a privilege.''
"Relationships is the best thing... we have the pleasure of connecting with every area of the college. We have a healthy staff borrowing population who love to talk books and technology."
"Working with so many people (students and staff) across the school. You learn so many different things and make great connections."
"The connection with the students for the entire 7 years of their primary schooling. The development of their reading life and watching their information literacy develop as they become independent learners."
"Interacting with the students and sharing ideas about reading and learning is extremely rewarding. Improving service to staff and building collegiate relationships... that has an impact on their engagement with the library and is really gratifying. It is a job where you can have a real impact on peoples lives."
In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is being able to provide a safe and welcoming space, a safe haven, an inspiring space, and a positive space.
"The best thing about working in the library is that students see it as a safe haven. They can come in, sit down and chill out and switch off for a short time. They can always be themselves without worrying about being bullied or teased. Everyday I have my regular students that come in and have a chat with me about their weekend, music, books, movies or anything else. I can get to really know the students and what makes them who they are."
"It’s a hub of activity with students wanting to be there - whether it’s children who find the playground overwhelming at play times or the kids who love to read, chat, draw, learn how the reshelve, and be part of an important team in the upkeep of our library space.''
"Creating a space that is inspiring, provides connection and collaboration across the school.''
"Being able to have an impact on students is so important to me. I personally found the school library to be a safe haven for me, both in primary and secondary school, so it's important to me that students feel that same way, no matter their situation.''
In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is the opportunity to support research and information literacy, connect students with relevant and reliable resources, and teach them how to find and critically assess information.
"Connecting students with reliable sources of information and teaching students how to be information literate.''
"Increasing students research skills - including that thirst for knowledge.''
"I enjoy assisting with research skills of students and sourcing information for faculties and students.''
"Helping the students with their research, and training them in database searching and referencing. Helping the teachers to source resources for their teaching."
In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is the opportunity to support teaching and learning, whether that is collaborating with teachers, working directly with students, developing the collection, developing the curriculum or curating resources.
"You can be instrumental in supporting and developing the curriculum and the manner in which it is taught... instrumental in developing learners."
"Working collaboratively with teachers to deliver evidence-based and effective programs to students, which means I also work with students and have many positive interactions with them."
"Working with teenagers and helping them with their learning. Associating with teachers and support staff, assisting with curriculum development and implementation."
"Constantly having opportunities to contribute to teaching and learning at the school."
"Knowing that the work I do is genuinely helping people and improving students' educational outcomes."
In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is the variety of the role, the constant change, the unpredictability, and the opportunity to be constantly learning.
"The type of work as it is varied and ever changing - classes, small groups and individuals.''
"Creativity. I love that school libraries are places that demand reinvention, I love that one day we can be having food tastings and the next day a gaming competition."
"It's so dynamic and ever-changing. I am never bored (except when explaining over and over how to use the printers)."
"Diverse and interesting days - helping students engage with recreational literacy, lifelong learning and critical literacy skills, and opportunities for creative marketing."
"I find libraries to be exciting places to work in when they are diversified in their role. From information and research skills, digital literacy and reading, and now makerspaces. They should be a central hub for the 21st Century classroom."
In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is being surrounded by books, being able to celebrate books, and sharing their love of books with others.
"The wide variety of books, getting lost in the imagination, and the simplicity and depth in some children's books.''
"I love books: books of all descriptions - picture books, novels, non-fiction books and I love telling others about a great find."
"Working with books. Sharing my love of books and reading with students and staff. Enthusing kids to read. Pairing students with a good book I think they will like. Being knowledgeable about children's and Young Adult books."
"I love everything about books and I get to be surrounded by them every day!"
"Everything to do with books. Making displays. All the steps buying books, putting them onto the system, and eventually showing the students the new books. Love it all."