CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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School Library Policy

Why have a School Library Policy? 

The IFLA School Library Guidelines 2nd edition (2015) states:

A school library should be managed within a clearly structured policy framework that recognises the library as a core resource and centre for reading and enquiry. A school library policy should be devised bearing in mind the overarching policies and needs of the school and should reflect the ethos, mission, aims, and objectives, as well as the reality of the school.

Your library policy is not only a set of guidelines on how the library is managed, it’s also an opportunity to promote all you and the library offer to SLT: management skills; leadership; collaborative working; raising attainment; cross-curricular resources; building reading skills and reading for pleasure; information literacy & digital skills; developing research skills; creativity; empathy; fostering curiosity and student-led learning.

Before writing your policy, it’s a good idea to check the aims and objectives of your school, school library service (if you have one) and local education authority, incorporating them into your policy’s aims and objectives.

Writing your Library Policy

A Mission Statement

Start with your library’s Mission Statement or Aims and Objectives. This could be a sentence, a paragraph, or bullet points outlining your vision for the library, which can include:

  • The Library environment and facilities
  • The Library as a safe space
  • Equitable access to resources
  • A focus on Reading for Pleasure
  • Supporting the educational goals and aspirations of your school
  • Creating collaborative relationships with teachers
  • Providing appropriate information resources for classroom teaching
  • Encouraging independent learning
  • Research examples on the effectiveness of school libraries
Management & Communication

Provide the title of your position. Titles and role descriptions can vary: are you a School Librarian, a Resource Centre Manager?  This is also the place to declare you are Head of Department. What is your employment status: full-time, part-time? Are you supported by Library Assistants, Pupil Librarians or other volunteers you are responsible for? Who you are accountable to eg your Headteacher, a Business Manager, or a Senior Librarian?

Outline how you intend to communicate with staff, parents, and your Senior Leadership Team. It is recommended you attend whole school meetings, Head of Department meetings, and Departmental meetings when necessary. Presenting at assemblies is a good way to ensure your message reaches all students. It’s always good to state your intention of working closely with staff to provide and create resources for promoting independent learning and information literacy skills.

State how you will communicate library news and initiatives to parents and carers. This could be via your school newsletter, website, parental emails or your own library newsletter. If your library has social media accounts, include them here and explain why you use them.

Opening Hours & Access

State your library opening hours, who and when they can visit the library. Will the library be closed for specific events and timetable classes? How will you communicate this with staff and students – this could be via email, registration announcements


This is where to explain who can borrow from the library, what they can borrow from the library, and how to borrow from the library. Perhaps also explain how loans are recorded using the LMS and if (and how) borrowers can access their individual accounts online. You should also explain how you expect books to be returned – can students return books at any time or only during a timetabled class? Do you have a dropbox for returned books? Also state why books should not to be returned directly to shelves.


An ongoing issue for all School Librarians. Overdues. How to get those books back!? If you have an overdues system, this is where to explain it: communication with students; register teachers; parents & carers; emails; letters. Are students expected to pay for lost or damaged items?

Library Rules?

The library will often adhere to the school pupil behaviour policy, but do add what makes you comfortable. Explain your expectations and perhaps involve students with library rules. Do you expect complete silence in your library? Is food allowed in the library? Does your school have a mobile phone policy?


Collection Management

Explain your selection policy: why you buy the items you buy for the library. Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, manga, reference, journals, magazines, newspapers. Explain how you promote the library collection: displays, subject guides, department book lists, and social media?

Explain how your collection is organised: how is your fiction sections divided eg Junior, YA and senior? Are dyslexia friendly titles included in the main collection or separate? Do you use Dewey for non-fiction or have you ditched Dewey and use themed shelving. Can students and staff request items?

Perhaps link to the guidance provided in the joint statement from CILIP, CILIP School Libraries Group and the School Library Association when considering issues relating to intellectual freedom and censorship.


Outline your weeding policy. Does this happen once per year or is it ongoing? Explain your criteria on deciding which items to remove: relevance; condition; circulation; information which presents inaccurate views of history; information which presents sexist, racist, offensive or stereotypical images and characterisations?

Digital Resources 

List the resources students and staff have access to, with links and information on how to access them: how do students and staff sign-in and download eBooks? Does your School Library Service or Public Libraries provide access to online resources?


This is an opportunity to outline the standards and stipulations set forth by the School Library Association and CILIP: every secondary school library should provide at least 13 items per pupil, with schools providing an annual budget based on a minimum of £15 per pupil, and a stock replenishment of at least 10% every year.

Unfortunately, it’s quite likely your budget does not meet these requirements. State your budget allocation and what this is expected to cover.

Complaints & Challenged Materials

Complaints regarding schools are usually made directly to the school involved. Outline the procedures for informal and formal complaints – check your school and local authority’s Complaints Handling Procedure before finalising your own. The American Library Association provide excellent resources for handling formal and informal complaints and a Request for Reconsideration of Material Forms.


Are students involved in designing the library space/environment? Are you able to provide separate study and reading for pleasure areas? What else does your library offer? Describe the library space: how many students can be accommodated; seating; PCs; laptops; makerspace; smartboards; interactive screens. Do staff and students need to book PC use in advance? How do they do this?

Library Activities 

This is where you can list and expand upon any extra-curricular clubs and activities you provide. Do you have a team of Pupil Librarians? Are you planning any author visits? Which annual or national initiatives does the library participate in eg World Book Day, Book Week Scotland, and Pride Month.

Library Lessons and Study Skills

This is another opportunity to promote your expertise and professionalism. Are you involved with your Primary Cluster transition process? How and when do you provide S1 library inductions? Do you have regular timetabled classes visit the library for lessons: book talks; paired reading; interventions; research skills? Do you deliver an Information Literacy programme? If so, explain how.

Partnerships & CPD

List the internal and external organisations and people you intend to work with: public libraries; NLS; Museums & Archives; Scottish Book Trust etc.

If you are a member of any professional bodies (such as CILIPS!), say so here and explain the benefits. Perhaps outline your commitment to CPD.

Evaluation & Annual Reports

The National Strategy for School Libraries in Scotland 2018 – 2023 states “Headteachers and Education Scotland will ensure that the work of the school library is included in school inspections and inspection results are used to encourage improvement of the service”.

How else will the service be evaluated? Do you receive an Annual Professional Review & Development? Who does this? It’s recommend you provide SLT with an Annual Review, an annual School Library Improvement Plan, and a Library Development Plan perhaps looking ahead to the next 3-5 years.

Templates and Recommended Reading

The following documents and templates have been shared by various organisations, school library services and school librarians. All are free to download and adapt to your needs.

American Library Association
  • A Planning Tool based on the National Strategy for School Libraries in Scotland
National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools resources: 
School Library Association 

Managing a School Library

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