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New Zealand school libraries share: The best thing about working in a school library


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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 New Zealand 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 New Zealand. In collating these comments, the following themes emerged:

  • Cultivating a love of reading
  • Engaging with students and staff
  • Providing a safe and welcoming space
  • Supporting teaching and learning
  • Supporting research
  • The variety of the role
  • The autonomy of the role

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.

Cultivating a love of reading

Student reading

In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is promoting reading for pleasure, turning reluctant readers into engaged readers, and being part of the reading journey.

“I love fostering a love of reading in children, connecting children with books, seeing pupils launch into their reading journeys, and reading amazing children's literature.”

“I love getting to know the children and being able to suggest books that they may like with the possibility of sparking a passion of reading.”

I love the fact that I get to encourage young people to find pleasure in books. It's very satisfying when someone comes in and tells you all about something they have been reading, particularly if they have previously been a reluctant reader.

Engaging with students and staff

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.

“I love interacting with students and teachers, finding 'just the right book' or helping with finding resources/information to complete assignments. (I also love opening boxes of new resources!)”

"The best thing about working in a school library is the relationships I have with young people and passionate staff."

“The students and the relationships that are built over the years as they grow and learn. Seeing them achieve their goals and dreams.”

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

Providing a safe and welcoming space

In this section, library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is being able to provide a safe and welcoming space for students, which helps to foster a love of reading, support student growth, and facilitate creativity and research.

"The children! I want to create a safe space for students to read and think and create."

"Providing a safe haven for our students to relax, read, enjoy and value the space we have in our Whare Matauranga.''

Creating a welcoming environment for students and seeing them enjoy reading for pleasure in that environment.

Supporting teaching and learning

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 working directly with students, developing the collection, or by collaborating with teachers.

"The best part of my job is the opportunity to be a part of enabling academic success and reading for pleasure to create a lifelong love of learning and reading."

"Contributing to teaching and learning within the Ashburton community."

The best thing about working in a school library is supporting students in their learning and teachers in their teaching.

Supporting research

In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is supporting research, connecting students to resources, and teaching them how to access quality resources.

"Making students' lives easier when you have the perfect resource or can point them to accurate info via databases."

"Connecting resources and teaching students how to access good quality resources."

What I like best about working in a school library is working with students to find reading and research materials and working with staff to further the resources that are available to students.

Librarian helping student with research

The variety of the role

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.

"For me, it's about the variety of work - every day is different. It's an unpredictable, challenging, fun environment. It's a welcoming space. Never boring. Always learning. Always changing."

"Every day is different. School librarians need to be able to do all library tasks - from acquisitions to cataloguing; supporting research needs to reader advisory; the work is very varied."

The autonomy of the role

In this section, school library staff share that the best thing about working in a school library is the autonomy of the role, being able to work independently, and being able to shape their role.

"I like that it's an autonomous role. My previous role was as a teacher. I have found that working in a library includes my teaching highlights without any of the negatives."

"Being able to have autonomy and oversight of all operations of the library."

"Being able to manage the library and run it the way I want, for example creating exciting displays to encourage children to read."

"Being able to manage the library and run it the way I want, for example creating exciting displays to encourage children to read."

To download the full feature document, visit our resources page.

Further reading


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