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UK school libraries share - The best thing about working in a library


Thanks to everyone who completed the 2020 UK School Library Survey!

The 2020 School Library Survey, conducted by Softlink on behalf of the SLA, was launched on 24th November 2020 and closed on 20th December 2020. The survey asked a range of questions about school library spaces, staffing, resources, the impact of COVID-19, and other important issues that arose in 2020.

We had a fantastic response, with valuable feedback shared by school library staff across the UK.

This feature article shares a selection of responses to the question “What is the best thing about working in a school library?"

“I love interacting with keen readers and users who appreciate the library as a resource.”

“I enjoy getting to know the pupils and seeing them grow as readers.”

“I love the interaction with students and providing them with a safe and supportive learning space.”

“I enjoy making a difference. Literacy is the best tool to change someone’s life.”

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

Cultivating student engagement and relationships

Cultivating Engagement

"Working with enthusiastic pupils and teachers; hearing pupils talk about books they have enjoyed; a thank you from a pupil you have helped; seeing tears in the eyes of an S1 pupil when he realised he could borrow (and take home to read) books from the school library; the smile on the face of a pupil when they successfully read to you when they had previously been struggling."

"I love to engage with the students and support their learning through encouraging good reading habits."

"I work with an incredible student cohort, who I know I have an impact on through working on literacy and reading development, reading for pleasure events, and much more! They keep me truly passionate about what I do."

"I find enjoyment in making a difference in young people’s lives. I love encouraging them to try new things and watching them progress. No two days are ever the same. It is such a rewarding job.''

"I love to really engage with the students about books and find the best ways to connect with the students.''

Being part of the reading journey

"Giving young people the tools to research and opening the doorway to reading for pleasure is an exceptional privilege. My favourite thing is when students come and tell me about something that they’ve read that has lit a spark in them."

"I love being able to encourage children to read for pleasure, chatting with them about what they’re reading, recommending books, and gaining positive feedback from children. In other words, moving them forward in their reading journey, especially those who didn’t enjoy reading at first.''

"I love that I am able to have an impact on the development of students reading habits and engage them in activities that will improve their literacy skills.''

"I love when a child who doesn’t want to read starts recommending books to others because they have enjoyed them."

"I enjoy being involved with the reading journeys of the pupils, shaping their interests and finding books that show them that reading is not that bad after all. I also enjoy the pastoral aspect, the library is traditionally a haven within the school."

"I love being able to connect students with books and information in any form and watch them grow as a result, including when they no longer require the support to find things as they learn."

"I enjoy promoting and improving the literacy skills of the pupils.''

"I love helping a student discover books they enjoy or helping a student who already loves to read to find new books. That moment when a student comes to tell you they enjoyed a book you recommended is amazing."

Books! Books! Books!

"I love choosing books and recommending them to students who I know will enjoy them."

"I love instilling a love of reading in the students. I can’t get enough of when a student rushes in to borrow that new book that they have been waiting for."

"For me, it's about the pleasure of promoting reading to students, many of whom do not have access to books or have not shown an interest in reading prior to starting at this school."

"I love seeing the delight of a child after reading a book that they really enjoyed. I also enjoy seeing them gain a knowledge and understanding after reading subject books, including those from the wellbeing collection."

"It is great being able to encourage reading for pleasure and seeing positive reactions to the recommendations I make to students."

"I love being able to foster a love for reading in the students that I work with."

"I enjoy inspiring and encouraging reading for pleasure and empowerment."

"I can’t get enough of those magical moments when a book turns a student into a reader."

Providing a positive and safe environment

"Promoting a joy of reading for pleasure is incredibly rewarding. Introducing children to fictional characters and worlds for the first time is an immense privilege. My mission statement for the library is "We lose ourselves in books - we find ourselves there too" - as our school has students from a wide range of nationalities and cultural backgrounds, I think the library is vital in facilitating "see one, be one" for our girls. My responsibility is to nurture empathy and complex literacy skills in an age of increasing isolation and demagoguery."

"I love that we are able to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students, in particular those for whom being part of such a large school community is a daunting prospect."

"I love creating a space where all are welcome, friendships can be formed, and the love of reading can be nurtured."

"I enjoy being able to run lots of fun activities for the students and being able to help them choose between a great range of books."

"I enjoy being able to be a part of the students’ lives, in a calm and relaxing environment."

"I enjoy being able to provide a stimulating learning environment for pupils, including a calm and quiet space."

"I love that I am able to give students access to information and reading resources that they can’t access elsewhere."

"I enjoy organizing events and activities for the students."

"I love that the library is able to provide those children who may be daunted by the noise and crowd of the playground with a safe, quiet space."

The whole library experience

"What I really enjoy is serving the whole school community in a unique way, allowing for good relationships and independence of action."

"The library is a lovely environment. It is a place where I feel that I can make a difference both educationally and socially."

"I am only in my fourth week as a school librarian, but so far it has been great having a role in engaging students with a book that they may not have picked themselves and seeing them enjoy it."

"I enjoy the library experience. It is a comfortable space that provides students with access to books, magazines and computers for research."

"The knowledge that this space provides can impact pupils and staff in any way. They can come here to relax, work, and to share good news.''

"I can’t get enough of the constant buzz and never quite knowing what will happen in the day ahead!"

“I enjoy working in a space that stimulates students.”

"I enjoy being able to support all areas and departments in the school with the resources that they require and to support reading for pleasure and research skills."

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

About the SLA

The SLA is a United Kingdom focused charity which supports everyone involved in school libraries.

We believe that every pupil is entitled to effective school library provision and the educational, emotional, and developmental benefits that come with it.

The SLA is committed to supporting, promoting, and sustaining high quality reading, teaching, and learning opportunities, for all in a diverse and changing world.

With around 2300 members, we provide training and access to resources to support the running of school libraries and the continuing development of all school library staff.

To learn more about the SLA, read “How can the SLA (School Library Association) help you?” 

To find out more visit our website sla.org.uk, follow us on Twitter @uksla or contact us via email info@sla.org.uk 

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