Why you should celebrate International School Library Month

International School Library Month runs throughout October and is a celebration of all the good things school libraries have to offer. From ample reading opportunities for all ages to insightful librarians, access to computers, and safe spaces, they’re multi-use places that everyone can benefit from. 

What is International School Library Month?

This celebration was set up by the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) to recognise and spread awareness of the benefits of School Libraries and Librarians to the students who use them.

This year, the focus is on how they can cultivate harmony between others and promote a peaceful, more accepting world. A lot of the world is in conflict and there is a lot of hatred. Library services can counterbalance this by increasing understanding and empathy.

Why should you celebrate International School Library Month?

School libraries and their librarians are unsung heroes of the education system. They’re a consistent source of information and knowledge that supports children throughout their school lives, but they also provide so much more: 

Boosts learning 

School Libraries are packed with valuable educational materials, be it on the computer or paper. Just by being there, a child’s curiosity can lead them to pick up a book or explore something they may not have before. It's a great motivator for learning and can help improve their results alongside other inspiration techniques

Encourage positive habits and focus

The quietness of a library lends to a more focused and concentrated pupil with fewer conversations or noise disturbances. This can also help them generate positive habits such as reading until the end of a chapter or time management. 

Safe spaces 

Libraries are classically accepting places where you can relax and feel safe from outside worry. Whether it’s bullying you’re trying to avoid or want a break from everyday work – the library can be a sanctuary. 

Technological access 

A lot of children have phones and laptops at home, it’s true, but not everyone does. One 2020 study from the ONS suggested 96% of households in Great Britain had internet access, but that still means 4% of the population could face limits with homework. And there’s no guarantee that if they have internet access and a computer, they have software, programmes or attitude to complete their homework or develop their skills. Their school library likely will have the technology and atmosphere to help. 

Reading for pleasure 

School libraries are said to have a positive impact on reading enjoyment and pupils’ opinions of reading. 

Expertise and insights 

School Librarians are skilful researchers and can help children find more information or books they might like and more appropriate resources.

Of course, the main benefit is that all these resources and services are free - they cost the user nothing and provide a uniquely valuable experience. 

How can youcelebrate International School Library Month? 

1. The Bookmark Exchange Project 

Created by the IASL, this project involves your pupils creating a bookmark and sending it to a neighbouring school library and vice versa. This exchange of creativity shares positive feelings and allows the children to make friends and be delighted by the library that facilitated it. It doesn’t have to be between libraries either. If you are tutoring a child, why not connect with a fellow tutor and conduct an exchange between your students which encourages them to visit their school libraries? 


2. Hold a creative writing contest 

Challenge your pupils to explore their school library and find a character to include, a story to adapt or an author to emulate in their creative writing. They could choose Roald Dahl and create a funny rhyming poem with fantastical words he used, or they could write a short story on how Percy Jackson went to the cinema. The idea is to get your pupils to explore the library and the books on offer. 


3. The Issues experiment 

Ask your pupils to visit their library to learn about a global issue and create a poster or presentation on it. It could be the story of pollution with historical facts, a poster exploring slavery abolishment or a presentation about how we can combat climate change. They’ll soon see the benefit of the school library and the librarian, as they’ll find everything they need to come up with these things with ease. 


4. Reading challenges 

Why not set up a reading challenge for your pupil based on their age and skill level? School Libraries often organise their books by age or set up collections of books by topic to help children find what they need quickly. By challenging your pupil to read several books for their skill level or find new books on a particular topic, you can help them get used to using the library and discover how useful they can be. 

5. Task them to broaden their minds 

We all have favourite genres or characters, but they can sometimes be limiting. So, why not challenge your pupil to step out of their comfort zone and try a new genre, for example: 


  • If they prefer fantasy books or graphic novels, challenge them to find a poetry book. 
  • If they like books about sports or war, get them to try magical stories. 
  • If they’re more into books from boy perspectives, encourage them to try books with a girl or LGBT+ perspective. 
  • If they like modern stories about regular people, suggest a book about Black history or other historical social and discriminatory issues.

How can I get involved on a regular basis to boost my school library?

There are many ways you can get involved with your local school library. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use social media to spread the word about International School Library Month and the importance of school libraries. Use the hashtag #ISLM2020.
  2. Write to your local school board or government representatives to let them know how important school libraries are to you and your community.
  3. Volunteer at your local library or donate books that you no longer need.
  4. If you’re a teacher, incorporate lessons on information literacy and the use of library resources into your curriculum.
  5. If you’re a student, take some time to explore your school library and check out some books! Let your librarian know what you think about the library and what kinds of resources you’d like to see.


Reading is about expanding their knowledge and teaching them about other things and people. And this task feeds directly into the International School Library Month 2023 theme of harmony and peace for everyone. 

Whether you’re a tutor or a student, International School Library Month 2023 is a great opportunity to help the pupils in your charge learn the value of school libraries and discover how they can support their everyday education. So, give them a challenge or two, ask them to use the library at least once, and remember to talk about their experience and the long-term learning benefits. 

PS: If you're looking for a Maths tutor, English Tutor, or Science Tutor, Sherpa online has thousands of qualified teachers you can arrange a free online introduction with.

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James Gurnett

28th September

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