Creating an inclusive library

Our learning spaces need to create a Tūrangawaewae - place where you belong for our students. As the library should be the learning hub, or learning heart, for our schools, then this principle is even more important in this space. 


Create a SOCIAL library
Creating a culturally inclusive environment for students
Download documents on Māori and Pasifika signage
Further reading

Create a SOCIAL library

Students often see school as a second home therefore your library should be an environment where it is just that. Talk to your students to find out what they want to see in their library space and what they think would make the library more appealing.

Think about events or activities you could host in the library for students and the wider school community. For example:

This also helps change the mindset that the library is merely for book exchange. Instead, it is seen as a safe and inviting place that can be used by all.

A place becomes a home when you can relax there.

Social setting: Gone are the days of dusty books on shelves and librarians shushing everyone who spoke above a whisper. The library, as a central hub for the school, should be the place where collaboration, co-creation, concentration and celebration can all happen under the one roof. Consider existing library policies and ask yourself, ‘Is this a barrier or an enabler?’.

Opportunities for student, teacher and parent involvement: The library is the one space in the school that everyone can be a part of – students, teachers and parents. It’s a ‘safe’ and non-threatening space for parents to come to and feel a part of the school. Trying to get students and teachers involved with activities, decorations, book selection in the library will add to the SOCIAL idea for the library.

Culture and language resources: This can be print (books, newspapers, magazines), digital, recordings, visits from people from the community, visits from authors, artists, musicians, videos, cultural artefacts…the possibilities are endless. Don’t limit yourself to just books.

Involvement with the wider community and events: The library is a great place to run activities and displays that reflect what is happening in the community eg Pasifika Festival, Polyfest, Language weeks, Matariki, Book week, Festivals.

Aesthetics and acoustics: Everyone wants to be in an environment that is welcoming and aesthetically pleasing. Making your library space both of these is crucial. Get your students and your families involved  and make it ‘their space’.

Limits – boundaries: Discuss with students and teachers how best to ensure the library is a safe, welcoming space where collaboration and discussions can take place.

Creating an inclusive environment for students

Some suggestions for making your library space more inclusive include:

  • Using relevant cultural motifs, artworks and displays when designing and decorating the library space
  • Face-out display of resources in different languages and about different cultures with the language labelled, to increase visibility
  • Links to Pasifika, Māori and ESOL websites and library events promoted through the library’s online presence on the school’s learning management system.
  • Involvement with the wider community - teachers, parents, community leaders, public librarians, and community events, pre-school access. Pasifika and Māori authors, positive role-models and guest speakers can make a great contribution.


Haka and moko shelf guide

Haka and Moko Shelf Guide

Signage in the relevant language(s), either permanently or (for smaller numbers) for special events during the school year is another important way of creating an inclusive space. The following documents provide suggestions on Māori signage, Subject headings in Māori and Pasifika signage. It's a good idea to consult your local Māori and Pasifika school communities before making any decisions.

Further reading

Visit TKI's Inclusive website for more information about developing an inclusive learning environment.

Universal Design for Learning can be used to create an inclusive environment for students of all abilities and cultures.

IDEOs Design Thinking for Libraries guide