Tips for moving your library

When your library is about to shift into another building you will need to plan for a number of issues including moving the library’s contents. And, if you are renovating, providing interim access to resources. Here are some tips to guide your project planning team to work through options applicable to your school.


Project planning team and action plan
Options for continued access to the collections
Prepare a communications plan
Establish a relocation plan
Downloadable guide to moving your library

The downloadable guide, attached at the end of this article, includes a template to help you prepare your relocation plan. This addresses issues such as the packing, moving and unpacking of the library’s contents, together with potential costs, any risks or OSH considerations.

1. Project planning team and action plan

Form a project planning team

  • Composition of the team may include senior leaders, teachers, library staff, students, parents/whānau and the consultant/project manager/architect.
  • Clarify roles, responsibilities, reporting and communication processes and timeframes.
  • Schedule planning meetings.

Establish budget and required resources

  • What funding (if any) has been allocated for shifting the library?
  • What extra resources are required, eg extra hours, shelving, furniture etc?

Prepare Action Plan

  • Profile your school to identify factors that will have implications for how to set up the library being moved into and what will be moved or disposed of (shelving, furniture and collections). For example:
    • Any changes in Year levels? eg previously Y9-13, now Y1-13
    • Roll size (much larger now?)
    • Changes in needs of students? eg ESOL, special education.
  • Develop a shared vision for the library aligned with the school’s educational goals, in consultation with staff, students and parents/whānau. See The pedagogy of the library.
  • Use Sections 2 - 4 of this guide to identify actions and milestones applicable to your school’s situation.
  • Check your school’s internet policies and Library Management System (LMS) for alignment with any proposed ICT, eg BYOD.

2. Options for continued access to collections

Your school’s type of building project will determine whether students and staff can continue to have access to the library’s collections, and the level of services you are able to provide. For example:

  • Building a new library: You may be able to continue operating in your current library; then shift into the new library.
  • School mergers: Your options will depend on whether your merged 'new' school’s existing library building is to be used, or remodelled, or a new library built elsewhere within the school.
  • The time-line for the school’s rebuilding project may also impact on your library.
  • If the library building needs to be used as a temporary classroom until a classroom block is completed, you'll need to set up a temporary library.
  • Remodelled library: If your school is to remodel its library, the options for continued access to the library’s resources depends on how extensive that remodel is going to be.

3. Prepare communications plan

Take into account how long your library may be out of action and keep staff and students informed. Agree who is going to undertake this regular communication with staff. Also whether it will include updates for parents and whānau in the school newsletter and on the library page of the website.

It's a good idea to identify expectations and to be able to plan ahead to access resources likely to be in demand during the remodelling/new building project.

For example:

  • If you intend to box the collections in readiness for shifting into a new/temporary library or storage area, arrange for teachers and students to select loans beforehand.
  • If remodelling the library, agree on the range of services you'll make available, eg setting up a temporary library.
  • Ensure teachers are aware of the lending services available from National Library’s Services to Schools.

4. Establish a relocation plan

Prepare a relocation plan for packing up, moving and unpacking the library’s contents. A template has been provided for your project planning team to use which sets out the main actions for moving the library and setting up a temporary library, if this is required during a remodelling project. See Template: Library relocation plan (pp. 5-9).

To identify risks, including insurance cover, and OSH considerations, refer to:

At subsequent project planning meetings:

  • check progress made and document any decisions, including aspects of the relocation plan to be modified
  • keep tabs on the funding allocated for the library as part of a major school building project to ensure availability when required
  • retain all planning documentation in a Project File, which should be made available for school audit purposes.

Supporting resources

  • Read Merging school libraries for information on aspects of new/ remodelled school libraries.
  • Contact our Services to Schools’ advisory helpline 0800 LIB LINE 0800 542 5463 for free advice on the building project’s stages - preferably at the beginning of the process before any plans have been drafted.
  • Consult with colleagues in other schools who may have been through a similar process.
  • Your school can also use the lending services available from Services to Schools.

Image by Pioneer Library System

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