The SLA was set up in 1937 by head teachers, and one school librarian. We have been focused on supporting school library staff since then, with our main initiatives being The School Librarian, publications and training.
While these remain our most recognisable products we now also offer mentoring, online courses, CPD blogs, and loads of online resources - all free to members!
An important part of the SLA's mission is to publish a wide range of books and articles on a wide range of topics designed to help SLA members design, build and maintain a vibrant and effective school library provision, filling it with appropriate resources. Our Guidelines series was introduced in 1990, with the first three titles all being best sellers; now there are a broad range of Guidelines for primary, secondary and sixth form, covering such diverse subjects as budgeting, design, plagiarism, information literacy and many more.
The School Library Association is a company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity in England and Scotland. The directors of the company are the trustees of the charity and are voted in by the membership onto the Board. Board members give of their free time and work hard to promote school libraries nationally and internationally.
The Company Secretary is the Chief Executive of the charity. In the last 60 years the Association has had six chief executives: Helen Gooch, Miriam Curtis, Valerie Fea, Kathy Lemaire, Tricia Adams and Alison Tarrant.
The SLA's Branches exist because of dedicated individuals who give their time to run them. Branches are supported by grants from the SLA head office and they run training days, social events and activities to support school library staff within their areas. From a high in 1989 when we had 28 active branches to a low in 1997, when just 15 branches existed, the branches provide support at a local level. Today we have 19 regional branches and three national branches: Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In 2003 the SLA introduced the post of Advisory Librarian to assist the Chief Executive in handling over 1,000 requests for advice every year.
In 1986 the office installed its first computer, an Amstrad PCW 8512, so that membership could be computerised.
Our systems have been upgraded a number of times since then to enable us to maintain our member information and offer a fast and secure service to our members across the UK and worldwide.
From the 1990s the website has become an important tool in spreading advice and support to school library staff and has been continually improved to make it more attractive and user-friendly.
1999 saw the introduction of the Association's current logo and in 2000 we moved to Lotmead Business Village, converted farm buildings near Swindon.
In February 2012 we moved into our new modern premises at Kembrey Park in Swindon.
2019 saw a major update to our website to make it more attractive and user-friendly and make sure we can continue to provide a high level of information and advice to our members.
The School Librarian is the official journal of the School Library Association. Published since 1937, it has, over the years, proved itself to be essential reading for everyone connected with education and librarianship, and its high editorial standard ensures it is kept as a reference source.
Volume 1, number 1 of The School Librarian appeared in March 1937, a small format journal including, as now, both professional articles and book reviews.
1969 became the first year of four issues annually and it received a new house style in 1988 and again in 2008. The information technology reviews section (ict@sla, now digital@sla) first appeared in 1997.
The journal is free to members along with our quarterly newsletter, and is also available to institutional subscribers.
The Association continues to evolve to meet the needs of its members and the sectors it serves. New initiatives such as online courses to provide CPD to library staff wherever they are keep us at the forefront of the profession, offering opportunities for lifelong learning.
School Librarian of the Year AwardThe School Librarian of the Year Award is the SLA's prestigious honour to recognise the excellent work that is carried out in school libraries every day, and to highlight the best practice of those whose work is outstanding.
Information Book Award
The Information Book Award is in its eighth year and was a major development for information books. It was designed to support school libraries and to reinforce the importance of access to information books whilst highlighting the high standard of resources available. The SLA Information Book Award is sponsored by Hachette Children's Group and is supported by Peters Books and Furniture.
The biannual SLA Inspiration Award is given to the school library space that shows inspiration, innovation, creativity and resourcefulness in its library design and in use, either through creative use of specific products or promotions. What matters is not how big the school library space is, but what it has achieved with the available resources and the challenges it faces.
Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award
The Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award is to recognise the contribution made by pupils who work in their school libraries, to acknowledge the skills gained and to give them the recognition they deserve, both within and outside their school community. The Award was inaugurated in 2015 and is a joint venture between the CILIP School Libraries Group (SLG) and the School Library Association.