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


Principals talking about school libraries

The Annual Softlink School Library Surveys are an opportunity for school library staff to share their thoughts and ideas through open-ended questions that ask them to reflect on trends, challenges, changes they would like to see, and general comments.

While the majority of respondents are school library staff, every year we also receive responses from Principals. With the challenges of 2020 (and for some the ongoing challenges of 2021) we thought this would be a great time to share encouraging words about school libraries, school library staff, and the changes they would like to make to the library from the Principal’s desk.

These comments have been collated from the 2014 - 2020 School Library Surveys and represent the voice of school Principal’s in Australia and New Zealand in response to the questions:

  • What do you see impacting school libraries most in the future?
  • 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?
  • What is the one thing you would change about your school library or your role?
  • How do you collaborate, or what ideas do you have for greater collaboration, between the library and the rest of the school?
  • Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Principal’s share their thoughts on:

  • librarians
  • the school library
  • staffing
  • changes they would make

To download the full feature document, visit our resources page

On the subject of librarians

We have a very conscientious librarian who quietly gets on with creating new displays, responding to theme weeks, and making the library a warm, positive place to be in.’ NZ 2016

‘Having a paid skilled librarian who knows how to excite children about books is crucial. We are very lucky but it is expensive to do this.’ NZ 2020


‘The key is to continue to provide resourcing, both staff and other resourcing, to our library. It is a fantastic learning space for up to 200 people and we have a wonderful, modern librarian.’ NZ 2017

I think our library is amazing. We are very proud of it and the difference it makes to literacy in our school.

The reason it is so good is because we pay to employ a passionate librarian.

NZ 2020

We have an enthusiastic librarian who promotes the library to staff, creates displays, organises authors visits, and runs a makerspace.’ NZ 2018

‘I think there is a lack of understanding of the role and impact of qualified teacher librarians by Principals as they are used for RFF rather than collaboration. TLs are always pressured to show their value.’ AU 2020

Our librarian is a digital literacy expert so she is constantly collaborating with staff and students.’ NZ 2017

On the value of the library

School libraries are so important. I believe there should be more school funding from the government dedicated to the school library. Promotion of shared libraries for resources would be great for small schools.’ AU 2020

Our library is a valuable resource that we would like to see made more available to our community.’ NZ 2016

‘Libraries need to remain as the intellectual, progressive and disruptive spaces of the world where equity is a priority. Regardless of technological advances and the unknown nature of the future - more than ever, our young people need the critical literacy, reading and writing skills that are consistent with strong, thriving library spaces.NZ 2019

Libraries are hubs or centres for open learning, elearning and social connection.’ AU 2014

‘Libraries and books are still the heart of learning to read, reading for pleasure and reading for knowledge. They should be compulsory in all schools and learning institutions.’ NZ 2016

On the subject of staffing

‘I would like to have a trained library staff member and more time devoted to the care and promotion of our resources.’ AU 2014

‘I would like to have a specialised library teacher or teacher librarian.’ NZ 2020

‘I would like a dedicated person to support learning in the library.NZ 2020

‘I would employ a fully qualified teacher librarian full time.’ NZ 2020

I would like to employ a teacher librarian to teach research skills and promote a wide variety of literature.’ NZ 2020

‘The library needs to be staffed full time and should be the hub of learning at the school.’ AU 2014


I would like to be able to afford trained staff including those who would facilitate and develop more ‘ownership’ to our school leaders and keep the vibrancy of the library ever developing, and increase the appreciation of the library facility by teaching staff.

This would re-ignite the opportunity for powerful learning that a library exists to provide.

NZ 2017

‘It would be good to have the library teacher aide in the library full time’. NZ 2019

‘I’d love to employ more people to help run our library.’ NZ 2020

‘If the funds were available, I would like more staffing to embed digital searches of the catalogue and research skills.’ AU 2020

On other changes they would make

‘Our library is mobile but that means it is not permanently in one place within the school. To run a library to cater for a school’s needs it needs a permanent place and a permanent librarian. We have neither.’ AU 2020

‘I would like to get rid of study supervisions.’ AU 2015

‘School libraries need to be open and accessible throughout the school day and before and after school.’ AU 2014

‘I would like to make the library a bigger space, have computers available for student use, and extend the librarians hours.’ NZ 2020

‘I would love to to see the library open during some lunch times.’ AU 2019

‘I would like a budget that actually allows us to promote and utilise the library - a valuable resource.’ NZ 2020

‘I would like more time and money for the library.’ AU 2019

‘In the ideal world a bigger, brighter, more welcoming library space with a wider range of reading material available.’ NZ 2020


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