Your school library needs to be well managed by an effective team of people with the right combination of professional expertise, skills and qualities.
Your school library team may include representatives from key areas of the school: for example, teachers, librarians, resource managers, ICT specialists, support staff, student librarians and volunteers. Or it may be a smaller, tight team comprising the librarian, and a teacher with assigned library responsibility, assisted by student librarians. Depending on the size of your school, you may have a library team comprising a library manager as a position of sole responsibility, with support staff and student librarians.
Each of these staffing models has implications for how effectively your library:
- can collaborate with teachers
- supports students as they build the skills they need to become confident 21st century learners immersed in an Inquiry approach to learning.
Reporting to and having the support of the Board of Trustees and senior management helps ensure your library team is integrated with whole school priorities and developments.
An effective school library team helps to plan, implement and evaluate programmes to develop students’ multiple literacy skills. Best outcomes come when this is done collaboratively with literacy leaders, teachers, ICT staff and administrators
As part of whole school staff development, members of your school library team will receive professional development and training. A performance appraisal system, which includes goal setting and annual reviews provides support.
The school library team is part of a wider library information landscape, which can be a source of advice, resources, networking and professional development opportunities.
Research into libraries supporting student achievement has shown that an enthusiastic and knowledgeable school library team plays a key role in helping your students to achieve.
The school library is a managed centre of professional expertise and support for the school community.
Critical Success Factors
- The library team has a positive profile throughout the school and the principal actively promotes the team’s role as a key contributor to the students’ learning.
- The library is well managed by an effective team, which is structured to maximise the library’s contribution to student achievement. This team is an effective combination of people with the relevant professional expertise, personal qualities, and qualifications.
- The library staff’s roles, responsibilities, competencies, qualities, and qualifications are agreed and documented in their job descriptions, and the library staff are included in the school’s performance appraisal and professional development programmes.
- The students and volunteers involved in operating the library are managed, trained, and supported so that they can undertake appropriate tasks and provide positive role models to library users.
The Guidelines (2002): 22
School library staff perform a number of critical roles in their learning community as educators, information specialists and administrators. In each of these roles, they support and empower students and teachers to meet high standards of academic achievement.
The nature and size of your school will determine the role, responsibilities and position titles of your school library team. The size of the team may vary widely and include different combinations of, for example, Teacher with Library Responsibility (TLR), Teacher Librarian (TL); Director of Information Services, Library Manager / Librarian; Library Assistant, Resource Manager and ICT specialist.
The following position overviews outline main areas of responsibility. Schools differ in their approaches to delegating library responsibilities, and so your school library positions may be a different combination of these.
Teacher Librarian (TL)
The TL is a trained teacher holding a Diploma of Teacher Librarianship or an equivalent qualification. This position usually attracts a Management or Responsibility Unit and requires regular release time from classroom teaching. In most situations the Teacher Librarian will have major responsibility for information literacy programmes.
Teacher with Library Responsibility (TLR)
The TLR has overall responsibility for the management of the school library. This position may attract a Management or Responsibility Unit and requires some release time to undertake library responsibilities.
The TL or the TLR is responsible for ensuring there is a connection between the library, classroom programmes, the curriculum, the school community and wider library information landscape.
These positions usually take responsibility for:
- coordinating and promoting services and resources to support information literacy, inquiry learning, and literacy programmes, by collaborating with other teaching staff and literacy specialists
- using school data, for example reading data, to inform library planning and collaboration to support literacy
- coordinating policy
- managing library staff
- managing the library budget and other funding opportunities
- planning and coordinating collection development
- planning and coordinating the development of the library’s online and physical environment and facilities
- developing and maintaining systems and procedures
- reporting to school management and the Board of Trustees
- liaising and networking with external agencies and support groups.
If your school has elected not to have a teacher with library responsibility or teacher librarian, then a library committee or library team will have these responsibilities. The key liaison and collaboration with teaching staff needs to be included in the library manager or librarian’s role.
Library Manager/ Librarian
This position usually entails significant library management responsibility and requires appropriate professional library qualifications.
Areas of responsibility for the librarian or library manager include:
- the day-to-day operations of the library
- assisting students and staff to access and use resources
- collaborating with teaching and library staff to plan and reinforce the schoolwide research and inquiry process
- consulting with teaching and literacy staff as to the reading needs of their students, helping individual students to find books to engage their interest, and supporting them as readers
- managing and developing training for library assistants, teacher aides, student librarians and volunteers
- planning and monitoring the library budget
- collection management and development in consultation with staff and students
- developing a buying plan
- displays and promotional events to encourage library usage
- managing the library management system (ILS - integrated library system)
- maintaining an up-to-date School Library Handbook (formerly the Procedures Manual)
- reporting to school management and the Board of Trustees
- liaising and networking with external agencies and support groups
Library Assistant (LA)
This position involves performing all or most of the day-to-day tasks needed to run the library, usually under the direction of a teacher with library responsibility, teacher librarian, library manager or librarian.
It is important that those in this position also liaise closely with teaching staff, to ensure library support for teaching / learning programmes takes place.
Examples of areas of responsibility for the library assistant are:
- helping to maintain and operate systems
- preparing resources for use
- contributing to collection development to support reading for leisure and information
- maintaining the library environment and facilities on a day-to-day basis
- supporting users with the inquiry process
- contributing to promotional programmes to encourage library use
- liaising with teaching staff to develop a clear understanding of the teaching and learning programmes and school curriculum
- liaising and networking with external agencies and support groups.
Student librarians / Volunteers
Some of the benefits of having student librarians as part of your library team are to:
- have student input into the library
- develop student ownership of the library
- raise the library’s profile
- develop students’ skills in helping others to use the library
- have assistance with library duties
Volunteers may include parent helpers and community volunteers.
Some examples of tasks assigned to student librarians and volunteers are:
- processing of resources – covering, labelling, stamping
- circulation of resources – issues, returns, reservations
- shelving – returning items to the shelves and ensuring all shelved items are in correct location and sequence
- displays – assisting with creating imaginative displays to promote the collection or events
- assisting library staff with daily operations
- helping other students and staff to access and use resources.
Voluntary workers can perform specific tasks working under the direction of paid library staff. The following links may provide useful information for employers and volunteers:
- Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector (administered by the Ministry of Social Development)
- ACC information on preventing injuries
- Fact sheet from the Department of labour regarding volunteers
- Employment Relations information on everything from what the adult minimum wage is, to casual employees' rights and entitlements
Personal qualities, skills and experience required for each position in a team will vary between school communities and according to each position’s role and responsibilities. Generic examples might include:
- excellent communication skills
- the ability to interact positively with students and staff and work collaboratively in a team
- a love of literature
- a willingness to keep up-to-date with information technology and library trends
- the ability to facilitate or cope with change.
For more examples of desirable competencies and personal attributes of professional and support staff, see specific job descriptions.
A written job description for school library positions:
- forms part of the position holder’s employment contract with the school and is a legal requirement under Section 65 of the Employment Relations Act 2000
- clarifies key roles and responsibilities for the management and operation of the school library
- identifies key skills and competencies required to fulfil those roles
- specifies hours of work and /or release time
- documents reporting lines for library staff
- may be used as a guideline for setting performance objectives
- may be used to assist in negotiating levels of remuneration for paid library staff.
A performance appraisal provides the opportunity to:
- discuss the work and achievements of library staff in the successful development and maintenance of library services - looking at specific Key Performance Indicators and objectives agreed as the focus for the appraisal period
- ensure library staff job descriptions are accurate and that staff are on the correct salary grading
- update with senior school management e.g. Principal, the key role the library can play in supporting student achievement, together with ideas for further development in this area.
Process for developing job descriptions for library positions
Draft job descriptions in consultation with Principal and key staff
- Use Job Descriptions guide and examples as models to write your own
- List key competencies and dispositions required
- List key tasks / responsibilities required to manage your school library effectively
- Assign tasks /responsibilities to each staffing position as appropriate to your school
- Identify desired person specifications, including qualifications and experience appropriate to each position
- Identify desired outcomes and performance measures /key performance indicators, which determine the extent to which each area of responsibility has been achieved
- Agree on performance appraisal process, who will undertake this in relation to library staff, and when.
Job descriptions: Content
- Position title
- Position statement (brief description of position)
- Reporting lines (lines of responsibility both upwards and downwards)
- Functional relationships with (eg HOD Health and PE)
- Hours of work/release time (if relevant)
- Key tasks and responsibilities, desired outcomes and performance measures/key performance indicators
- Person specifications (qualifications, skills, knowledge, experience, personal qualities)
- Signature of Principal and employee, and date
- National Library Services to Schools Professional Development programme
- Direct support from a Library Adviser via the 0800 LIB LINE service: 0800 542 5463
- Networking through online communities as well as local library networks
- Professional Registration information through LIANZA
- Link to sources of professional qualifications:
- For further information on New Zealand library qualifications, visit:
- The School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA)