Running a successful school library requires the involvement of staff, pupils, parents and the governing body. 

To ensure that the library is strategically managed and developed as well as open and available to children as much as possible, it is recommended that schools employ a professional librarian  to work alongside a library assistant who spends 10 to 20 hours a week in the library.  Some Schools Library Services run a peripetetic librarians scheme.

Professional Librarian

A professional librarian will:
1.      Promote enjoyment of, and excitement about, reading
2.      Establish skills for independent learning and assist in the delivery of information skills teaching in the school
3.      Buy quality resources for the school library and classroom libraries
4.      Manage, maintain and promote the school library and teacher resources
5.      Manage the computer library system, if in place.
6.      Ensure the school gets value for money from their Schools Library Service subscription
7.      Provide training and supervision for others working in the library - teaching assistants, pupil librarians and parents/volunteers 
8.      Ensure consistency and maintain the quality of the school library on a long-term basis and regardless of changes in personnel. 
Many schools find that having a professional librarian even for just a few hours each week, the library flourishes and the librarian has time to work with children as well as manage the library and keep it operational so that it can be used throughout the week.
The library continues to grow from strength to strength and the children are so excited with the new arrivals.  I saw Tanya and a couple of others buried deep in the delivery box today. (She assured me she has authorisation!!)  So many children are walking around the school holding and reading books now.” Deputy Head

Library Assistant

A library assistant is often a member of the school support staff who is allocated some hours each week to work in the library to:
1.      Assist in the day to day running of the library, keeping it open and available to children
2.      Prepare new resources for use. (i.e. spine labelling, jacketing, etc)
3.      Assist and supervise pupils using the library throughout the week
4.      Assist in the repair and maintenance of stock
5.      Shelve materials in correct order
6.      Assist with creating displays of library resources, production of library newsletters and other ways of promoting materials

This work can also be done by pupil librarians, teaching assistants and parent volunteers

Ways forward

Contact your local Schools Library Service for help and advice on recruiting and training a primary school librarian and other staff.  There may be opportunities to share the cost with other primary schools in your area. 

If there is no schools library service in your authority, neighbouring services or public libraries are able to offer support.  Visit for a map of School Library Services in England and Wales.

Click on the links below for job descriptions and person specifications for the different roles outlined above.

What headteachers say about having a professional primary school librarian

"There is no doubt that his work with reluctant readers has pushed up our SATS results"

"The staff are so happy to have a functioning, ordered library that they can use and where they can find things"

"The after school reading club is a great success"  

"Since we have had the librarian, I know every child in this school knows what book they are reading and can talk to me about it"


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