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School libraries share: What’s trending #SchoolLibraries 2019-2020


Trending topics for school library staff

In 2016, we published the feature document “What’s Trending #SchoolLibraries”, based on responses to the question “What exciting trends are emerging that could impact libraries in the near future?” in the 2015 Softlink Australia and New Zealand School Library Survey.

In 2019, we decided to revisit this question to look at current trends and include the voice of school library staff from Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

We thought this document would not be complete without the highest trending topic in 2020, COVID-19 and school shutdowns, so released an additional 3 question survey in May 2020. A selection of responses has been included at the end of this feature.

This feature highlights the voice of real school librarians, collated into common themes identified from written responses.

Additional feature documents, with comments drawn from Softlink’s global surveys, are available through the Resources page on the Softlink web site.

A summary of the top trending topics is included below.

You can download the full feature on our resources page.

What’s Trending #SchoolLibraries 2019-2020

1. #Advocacy #Recognition

In this section respondents share about the rise in school library advocacy, and the contribution the Students Need School Libraries Campaign, the Great School Libraries Campaign, authors, public libraries, and school library staff themselves are making to promote the library.

They also shared that there is a growing awareness of the difference a well-resourced and well-staffed library can make to educational outcomes.

International collaboration like this – promoting the necessity and importance of school librarians.


There is a growing realisation by the general public that trained teacher librarians are essential in schools for the teaching and learning of digital literacy and reading.


The Students Need School Libraries campaign is very exciting. I think it provides us with a common language to use when promoting the school library and the importance of our role.


2. #TheVirtualLibrary

In this section, respondents share that with the rise in technology and increased accessibility to the school library through cloud-based systems, they are finding new ways to meet the needs of students that live in an online world, and build a virtual library space alongside the physical library space. Curated guides to support research also featured in the comments.

The importance of the “virtual” library – being able to access resources from anywhere and at anytime.

Students today expect information at their fingertips and if the school library wants to stay relevant, they need to provide that.


Access to better quality information through online databases.


Further developments in cloud-based LMS’s to allow access anywhere, anytime, and on any device.


3. #SchoolHub #CommunitySpace

In this section, respondents share how libraries are becoming a community hub, for both the school community, and the broader community.

As the “hub of the school”, libraries are no longer seen as just quiet spaces for study, but vibrant, flexible, collaborative spaces that facilitate group learning and study, cross-facility learning, community events, and social connection.

The school library being a civic or community centre of the school.


The increasing recognition of libraries as a community hub (almost like a return to brand?)


I love that libraries are trending towards being the hub of a community – whether this is school based or otherwise.


4. #FakeNews #DigitalLiteracy

In this section, respondents share that with the rise in fake news and the increase in digital learning, there has been a greater need to teach information, digital, and critical literacies. They also shared the increasing role of school library staff to teach these skills.

In this era of ‘fake news’ teaching students about reliable databases and being able to determine truthful and factual information is huge.


The rise in fake news has meant that the library role has been recognised as a source to teach critical information skills and how to find quality information.


5. #InteractiveLearningExperiences

In this section respondents describe how school libraries are becoming a space for more interactive, hands-on learning spaces with the introduction of Makerspaces, STEM, STEAM, VR and AR. They also shared that this has led to more critical and creative thinking, as well as collaborative teaching and learning.

There is a massive shift from the library being a place to find books to so much more.

Libraries are becoming a meeting place, Makerspace, digital hub gaming space etc.


There is a shift from quiet space to creative space while offering an even greater range of resources.


Libraries are becoming hands on learning, collaborative teaching spaces.


6. #EngagingReaders #SupportingReaders

In this section, respondents describe how access, and access to a greater variety of books (e.g. Graphic Novels), books that are more diverse (representing all people), and a greater variety of resources to support special needs/struggling readers, has led to greater student engagement in reading or success with teaching reading.

The increased use of eBooks and audio books is making otherwise disengaged students enjoy reading. That is flowing on to students then trying, and enjoying, reading print books.


The breadth of children’s literature reflecting all people, not from one place, one gender or one race.

The growth in diversity in books is fantastic!


More use of eBooks and better use of audio books and other resources to help those with SEN e.g. using AI in reading assessment.


7. #COVID-19

In May 2020, we released a survey to learn how COVID-19 and school shutdowns have impacted school libraries. Responses to the survey are truly representative of school library staff as technology leaders and innovators in a rapidly changing world, whether that is the unexpected sudden change that school shutdowns presented, or the ever-changing digital world we now live in.

A selection of responses has been shared in this blog post.

If you would like to read a summary of other School Library Survey feature documents, visit this blog post.

The 2019 Australia, New Zealand, and Asia Pacific School Library Survey Report can be accessed on our resources page.