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Use of Volunteers in the Library

For ideas on selecting and recruiting pupil librarians, organising induction and developing a training programme, see our Pupil Librarian Toolkit (SLA Members only), launched to celebrate International School Library Day 2008.

The School Library Association believes that every child has the right to the provision of an effective, well-stocked and well-managed school library and that volunteers can play an integral part in that provision. Volunteers, however, should never replace experienced or qualified staff and they must be effectively managed.

In secondary schools

Adult volunteers
  • They are welcome, but should not replace appointed members of staff
  • They should not be used by a school as a way to save money
  • Parent volunteers can be excellent advocates for the library
  • Volunteers should come into school for a specific purpose - such as to assist with clerical duties. They should not act as decision makers
  • Volunteers could come into school for a specific career development opportunity for a specified period
  • Volunteers should receive appropriate training from an appointed member of the library staff
  • Volunteers should have a written statement which describes their role and what is expected of them and includes guidance on their interaction with pupils and staff
  • Volunteers must always conform to the school's policies on volunteers on the premises and with all general school policies - especially the Health and Safety Policy and should be CRB checked (checks are free for volunteers)
  • A risk assessment for the library should be undertaken and any problems highlighted should be addressed prior to the volunteers commencing their duties
Pupil volunteers
  • Using pupils as volunteer library assistants can be good for their personal development
  • Pupil involvement in the library, including as volunteer library assistants, is regarded favourably by Ofsted
  • Methods of recruitment need to be considered to endure the widest range of pupils are given the opportunity to apply
  • Pupil volunteers should be given appropriate training by an appointed member of the library staff
  • Pupil volunteers should have a written statement which describes their role and what is expected of them and includes guidance on their interaction with fellow pupils and staff
  • Appropriate recognition of their work, e.g records of achievement, should be ensured
  • A risk assessment for the library should be undertaken and any problems highlighted should be addressed prior to the pupils commencing their duties

In primary schools

Adult volunteers
  • They are welcome, but should not replace appointed members of staff
  • Parent volunteers can be excellent advocates for the library
  • Volunteers should receive appropriate training
  • Volunteers should have a written statement which describes their role and what is expected of them and includes guidance on their interaction with pupils and staff
  • Volunteers must always conform to the school's policies on volunteers on the premises and with all general school policies - especially the Health and Safety Policy and should be CRB checked (checks are free for volunteers)
  • A risk assessment for the library should be undertaken and any problems highlighted should be addressed prior to the volunteers commencing their duties
Pupil volunteers
  • Using pupils as volunteer library assistants can be good for their personal development
  • Methods of recruitment need to be considered to ensure the widest range of pupils are given the opportunity to apply
  • Pupil volunteers should be given appropriate training and recognition
  • Pupil volunteers should have a written statement which describes their role and what is expected of them and includes guidance on their interaction with fellow pupils and staff
  • A risk assessment for the library should be undertaken and any problems highlighted should be addressed prior to the pupils commencing their duties

May 2008