School library futures

School libraries support the learning and literacy outcomes of the students. School library services are totally integrated into the teaching and learning programme, aligned with the school’s goals for learners and delivered onsite and online.

The nature and role of school libraries in New Zealand and around the world is continuing to evolve. We can't be sure what the future looks like, but we can be sure that we must participate in the discussion and development to ensure that libraries are places of transformative learning relevant and responsive to the needs of their users.


Enhancing student learning
Re-imagining school libraries

Enhancing student learning

In School libraries, building capacity for learning in the 21C (PDF), Lyn Hay and Coleen Foley discuss their research and findings about how student learning is enhanced through school libraries stating:

"While it is difficult to predict what school libraries might look like in the future, we believe research, professional practice and current trends can inform the journey".

Libraries of the future will be built on a strong foundation of evidence-based practice, with student learning as the core value. Their growth and development will have been strategically planned and aligned with their core values.

In the future we will work to create possible scenarios for school libraries to assist schools and librarians as they strategically plan for future library developments.

Good library design, along with good management and a focus on learning enables an effective school library to contribute to the educational, creative, emotional and reading development of children and young people. In the United Kingdom, CILIP School Libraries Group and MLA (Museums Libraries and Archives Council) have produced an inspirational video narrated by Stephen Heppell about school library design.

Re-imagining school libraries

There are many questions we need to carefully consider as we think about the future of school libraries, including:

  • Will school libraries exist in 20 years time? Why or why not?
  • What are the strategic goals of the library of the future?
  • Who works in the school library of the future and what is their primary role?
  • How do the staff in the future library enable and facilitate learning?
  • What does the school library of the future look like?
  • Where will the library fit in the educational landscape?


  • The vision for the library of the future is informed by learning outcomes and technological possibilities and is unencumbered by past models
  • Our actions will be based on evidence
  • Libraries will collect evidence to show the impact they have on learning outcomes
  • Strategic planning is outcomes and solutions focussed
  • Libraries support learning, facilitate the construction of deep knowledge, supporting information seeking behaviour with tools for utilising that information to create new knowledge
  • Libraries will be "pedagogical fusion centres" - learning commons that enable creation of deep knowledge, facilitation of critical thinking and the application of skills to new disciplines
  • Libraries will provide equitable access to their spaces, collections, technological tools in physically and virtually

As we move further into the twenty first century, successful school libraries will evolve and will: 

  • be re-imagined and re-positioned, using evidence to advocate in their school community and the wider education sector
  • build capacity in their staffing and their facilities; maintaining currency in pedagogical and technological developments; creatively designing new learning opportunities in collaboration with teaching staff
  • shift to facilitating active learning processes
  • plan strategically with learning as a core value
  • use evidence to inform practice and will collect evidence of practice to inform policy
  • cultivate strong reading culture in their schools
  • provide collections in many formats, with web delivered digital content available within and outside school at all times and print collections made readily available with non restrictive lending policies

image by superkimbo in BBK