Different libraries around the world: school library

Photo: 'Library' by Superkimbo CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 taken in Gaselo Village in Bhutan

Photo: ‘Library’ by Superkimbo CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 taken in Gaselo Village School Library  in Bhutan

Up next in our series are school libraries…

Whilst school libraries differ in form and even function around the world, they share a crucial core mission to equip students with life-long learning skills, a love of information, knowledge and reading and prepare them for the information and knowledge driven world in which we live.

UNESCO and IFLA have a joint School Library Manifesto which states:

The school library offers learning services, books and resources that enable all members of the school community to become critical thinkers and effective users of information in all formats and media. School Libraries link to the wider library and information network in accord with the principles in the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto.

The library staff support the use of books and other information sources, ranging from the fictional to the documentary, from print to electronic, both on-site and remote. The materials complement and enrich textbooks, teaching materials and methodologies.It has been demonstrated that, when librarians and teachers work together, students achieve higher levels of literacy, reading, learning, problem-solving and information and communication technology skills.School library services must be provided equally to all members of the school community, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, nationality, language, professional or social status. Specific services and materials must be provided for those who are unable to use mainstream library services and materials.Access to services and collections should be based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms, and should not be subject to any form of ideological, political or religious censorship, or to commercial pressures.

School librarians play a big role in shaping the general public’s relationships with libraries and librarians, as the formative experiences that children have in school libraries can define their love (or not) of libraries for life. Many librarians speak of first being inspired by their school librarians or by serving as a library volunteer as a student.

School libraries take many different forms around the world, some outstanding examples include:

Photo: "SEED Library II" by Andrew Moore CC-BY-SA 2.0

Photo: “SEED Library II” by Andrew Moore CC-BY-SA 2.0

The stunning SEED Library in Johannesburg, created from brightly coloured recycled shipping containers.


The creative and unusual library at Rosendale Primary School Library in London.

Other inspiring school libraries include:

So tell us:

  • What was your school library like?
  • How has your school library experiences shaped your relationship with libraries?
  • If you work in a school library, what’s that like? What are the best/worst bits of your job?
Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2015A and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. Can anybody please give me the International Standards Organisation Nr. for the international definition of a school library? I need to read the text for a research project. I wrote to the ISO but didn’t receive a reply.

    • Hi Helen,
      I’ve done some quick research and I don’t think there is an International Standard for School Libraries, the closest thing we could find was the joint IFLA UNESCO guidelines we quote above: http://www.unesco.org/webworld/libraries/manifestos/school_manifesto.html

      Most of the ISO standards for libraries are technical standards to govern metadata structures and interoperability. There are also some new(ish) ones about library impact and measurement.

      Best of luck in your search.


      • Hi Kate,
        Thanks very much for trying to help. I understood that about 2 years ago the ISO was working together with the Statistics Section of IFLA to establish a new definition of what a school library actually is, so that accurate data could be collected and comparisons could be made. In the past it has been very difficult to collect accurate research data on school libraries, since they vary so much from country to country.

        I have written to the IFLA and also to the ISO about the number of the standard (if it was ever published) but didn’t receive replies from either of these organisations.

        Kind regards,

        • Hi Helen,
          Thank you for the extra information. In that case, I believe the standard you are looking for is:
          ISO 2789:2013
          Information and documentation – International library statistics



  2. Pingback: My Libraries at School: Primary/Elementary School | Librarian to be. . .

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