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National Working Party to provide COVID-19 Guidance for School Libraries

12 May 2020 Share

The School Library Association (SLA), CILIP and the CILIP School Libraries Group (CILIP SLG) have created a joint National Working Party to develop guidance for school library staff when planning for the re-commencement of services disrupted by COVID-19.

The guidance, which will take the form of a regularly updated electronic resource, will enable school library staff to engage school leadership in a constructive dialogue about the safe re-commencement of full physical and digital library services in primary and secondary schools.

Drawing on resources from the National Education Union (NEU), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education (DfE), the guidance will prioritise the safety and welfare of everyone who interacts with the school library, including pupils and teaching staff as well as library staff and volunteers.

Speaking about the new joint Working Party, CILIP SLG Chair Caroline Roche commented, “COVID-19 has been an unprecedented challenge for school library staff. Although many of our physical spaces have been closed and many professional colleagues are currently on furlough, we have been innovative in extending our existing digital support for teaching and learning in the school. 

This Working Party brings together considerable expertise to help our colleagues plan to support their schools in emerging from the disruption of COVID-19 in a way that complies with Government and PHE guidance and maximises their safety and the safety of pupils and fellow teaching staff.”

Commenting on the announcement, SLA Chief Executive Alison Tarrant said, “This Working Party and the guidance we will produce will help to ensure that when school leaders and school library staff are planning how to recover teaching and learning provision following COVID-19, they do so from a position of joint understanding, both to keep library users safe and to make best use of the library as a springboard for innovation.

School libraries face particular challenges given they are a shared space, they are used across year groups cohorts and in some cases throughout lessons and free time, but there’s many dimensions to school libraries which need consideration. ” 


The Working Party is made up of experienced school library leaders including: 

  • Lucas Maxwell, Glenthorne High School
  • Caroline Roche, Chair, CILIP SLG
  • Alison Tarrant, Chief Executive, SLA
  • Darryl Toerien, Oakham School
  • Dawn Woods, SLA


The Working Party is also supported by corresponding members Elizabeth Hutchinson and Terri McCargar, plus CILIP Chief Executive, Nick Poole.

The COVID-19 Guidance for School Libraries will be launched online on Friday 15th May and will be regularly updated thereafter. The Guidance will also be developed with reference to the parallel initiative to develop a toolkit for the re-opening of public libraries, led by Libraries Connected.