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Dual Use Libraries

(The term dual use libraries refers in this instance to libraries located within schools and intended to serve the needs of both the school and the local community.)

The School Library Association believes that dual use libraries work best when the school managers and the managers of the community library service have a shared vision for the service and a clear agreement as to its operation.

A vision statement might be expected to include the intention to maximise the opportunities offered: to provide an inclusive service to the whole community, throughout and beyond the school day; to provide access for learners of all ages and abilities; and to promote lifelong learning and reading for pleasure.

If the library is to be effective it is essential that funding is adequate to provide an appropriate level of staffing and the range and quantity of resources required to support the school curriculum and the learning needs and leisure interests of the community as a whole.

An agreement on the operation of the service may take the form of a policy or a formal service level agreement. It should include statements relating to:

  • Access
    Ideally the library should be available to pupils throughout the school day. To maximise the advantages of being dual use, it should also be available to other members of the community during the school day and at other times (evenings and weekends) according to community needs.
  • Security
    The security of pupils will need to be considered. Staffing levels should be adequate to provide supervision and guard against inappropriate contact with members of the community, and staff should be given child protection training. The layout of the library should be designed to give good lines of sight.

  • Staffing
    There should be sufficient professional librarians and library assistants to: manage the library; support the learning and personal reading needs of pupils, school staff and other members of the community; collaborate with teaching staff to support library based learning and develop information literacy skills; and operate the library on a day to day basis. Line management of staff should be clearly defined.

  • Stock
    Stock should reflect both the curricular needs of the school and the needs of the local community. Ideally the stock will be integrated, but with provision for items to be retained for school use only, when needed for curricular work.

  • Budget
    The budget may be held by the school or by the public library service. Ideally both should contribute an agreed proportion of it.

  • Management
    Public Library and school managers should both have an input into the management of the library, but responsibilities should be clearly defined, particularly for the management of staff and of the building, so that decisions can be made quickly when necessary.

February 2016