Why is a staff library a school ‘must-have’?
Imagine a school without a library? It wouldn’t be much of a school. An inclusive library is a dynamic and creative hub for everyone to think, share and grow. It is a think tank, a vibrant social space and place to learn and boost our knowledge and wellbeing.
But what about staff? Do staff have a library of their own?
“One of the features of great schools is that they have a staff library, not least because staff are encouraged to read widely about education. This means there is an expectation to add to the staff library and to use chapters/extracts from some of the books to promote discussion about teaching and learning in staff and school meetings.”
A staff library populated by books dedicated to the craft of teaching, learning and assessment is a must-have because it promotes CPD, self-improvement and school improvement.
Unfortunately, staff libraries are quite rare. The closest most schools get is a few of shelves in the staffroom which tend to be dumping grounds for other staffroom resources such as coffee cups and bits of paperwork that no one wants. The staffroom is a social space and a place to relax in and so for the wellbing of staff, ship the books out and find a new home for them.
Of course, space is an issue and it would be a luxury to have an actual library just for teacher education books. However, some schools make sure that their central library provision includes a good stack and shelf space for teacher books that can be loaned in the same way as students borrow books. Secondary schools are well-placed to make this happen as their libraries are bigger and they employ a librarian or learning resource centre manager – many primaries don’t.
The problem with books in the staffroom is that they tend to go missing and never returned only because they are put there in good faith without a lending system.
A school library isn’t something that is the exclusive space of students and there is no reason why staff shouldn’t have their own sections and shelves. The sorts of books, magazines, newspapers and journals I am referring to would be education resources that teachers could use as part of their own research to better themselves.
Now is a great time to be a teacher because there are thousands of educational books for teachers on the market. Some of these can be purchased as new but many are readily available second-hand and are inexpensive.
Colleagues could donate some of their own books and a portion of the battered budget should be given to CPD and the buying of books. Write to publishers and request some copies for staff to review. Write to publishers requesting samples. There is more out there for free than you might think.
A library for staff is important. It might be tempting to say that “it’s all on the internet” these days but it isn’t. Books old and new are there to be read and contain golden nuggets that can help teachers be better at their job. And guess what? Students get to see their teachers using a library and that motivates them to be more regular users too.