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New research into school libraries

Updated: Oct 15, 2021


We are delighted that the Great School Libraries team have been working with Nottingham Trent University to develop some further research into school libraries. These focus specifically on the impact of school libraries on pupil wellbeing, SLT's understanding of and attitudes towards school libraries and understanding the impact of inquiry learning.

The full research projects will be released later this year, alongside toolkits to support implementation of best practice in school libraries. Sign up to the newsletter to be the first to hear announcements from GSL.


Until then, we're delighted to share some of the key findings from the literature reviews of the projects.


The Role of School Libraries in Pupil Wellbeing

Key points from the literature review


  • Teachers report lacking training to deal with wellbeing issues

(Kidger, J., Gunnell, D., Biddle, L., Campbell, R., & Donovan, J. (2010). Part and parcel of teaching? Secondary school staff's views on supporting student emotional health and well‐being. British Educational Research Journal, 36(6), 919-935.)


  • Library usage positively correlates with general health in adults

(Fujiwara, D., Lawton, R., & Mourato, S. (2015). The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries Full report. Arts Council England and SIMETRICA.)


  • 73% of children who use their school library have higher literacy engagement scores

(Clark, C, & Teravainen-Goff, A. (2018b). School Libraries: Why Children and Young People Use Them or Not, Their Literacy Engagement and Mental Wellbeing. Findings from Our Annual Literacy Survey 2017/2018. National Literacy Trust Research Report. National Literacy Trust)


  • The school library is a place where children say they can relax, read, study and enjoy quiet time

(Hughes, H., Franz, J., Willis, J., Bland, D., & Rolfe, A. (2019). High school spaces and student transitioning: Designing for student wellbeing. In School Spaces for Student Wellbeing and Learning (pp. 97-119). Springer, Singapore.)


  • There are examples of school libraries introducing new programmes and collections in order to centre children, and ensure engagement

(Kirkland, A. B. (2021). So much more than a safe space: Student well-being in the school library. Synergy, 19(1).)

This project is by Lauren James and supported by Clare Wood, Nottingham Trent University.


Understanding Senior Leaders’ Understanding of and Attitudes towards School Libraries: Th Link Between Library Usage and Higher Grades and Retention Rates

Key points from the literature review


  • School librarians promote reading, develop literacy skills and this was valued by stakeholders

(Scott, R., & Inskip, C. (2017). UK preparatory school librarians' and teachers' design and use of reading lists: A qualitative study of approaches, perceptions, and content. School Library Research, 20.)

  • Headteachers which didn’t support the library were in schools with inadequate staffing and staff were less able to support the curriculum

(Asselin, M. (2021, March). Factors of effective school libraries: a survey of perspectives of teachers, teacher-librarians, and principals. In IASL Annual Conference Proceedings (pp. 1-16).)

  • Most stakeholders were unaware of the programs and support offered

(Everhart, N. (2014). What Do Stakeholders Know about School Library Programs? Results of a Focus Group Evaluation. School Library Research, 17.)

  • Staff qualifications were rated as low in a stakeholder survey

(Al Musawi, A., & Amer, T. (2017). Stakeholders' Perceptions of Quality and Potential Improvements in the Learning Resources Centers at Omani Basic Education Schools. International Education Studies, 10(9), 124-140.)

This project is by Zeynab Mohamed and supported by Clare Wood, Nottingham Trent University.


Understanding the Impact of Inquiry Learning

Key points from the literature review


  • Since 1990, creativity scores have decreased by a large margin, even if IQ scores have increased

(Kim, K. H. (2011). The creativity crisis: The decrease in creative thinking scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Creativity research journal, 23(4), 285-295)


  • Existing models of education are not optimal at teaching pupils to deal with contemporary problems

(Perkins, D. (2010). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. John Wiley & Sons)


  • Intrinsic motivation likely leads to increased interest, enjoyment, self-regulation, well-being, and to better academic outcomes

(Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Self‐determination. The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology, 1-2)


  • Chu 2009 compared students who experienced IBL to a control group of students who did not, and their findings showed higher grades in the IBL group, regardless of academic abilities

(Chu, K. W. S. (2009). Inquiry project‐based learning with a partnership of three types of teachers and the school librarian. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(8), 1671-1686)


This project is by Alex Dediu and supported by Clare Wood, Nottingham Trent University.


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