ALIA Blog Article

ALIA Blog: Dr Lyn Hay’s School Libraries Research Report

ALIA is proud to release the most comprehensive examination of the school library workforce in decades. Dr Lyn Hay has written a fascinating report exploring the unique continuing professional development (CPD) needs and employment pathways in school libraries. The report is part of the wider Professional Pathways initiative, which aims to create a strong, diverse and future-ready library and information sector.


School libraries are the hub of school literacy, an essential resource and support for students in their learning journeys, and for the increasingly stretched teacher workforce. And while not all students have access to one, for many the school library is the first exposure to libraries.

Bringing together her research into school libraries and library access from Australia and internationally, data from focus groups and interviews, plus a national survey, Lyn highlights the top priority areas for CPD and training and makes five key recommendations for ALIA and partners to address key challenges and priorities for the school library sector.

Among the thirteen priority CPD topics are collection development issues and challenges, selecting and evaluating Indigenous resources, digital content curation and managing digital collections, marketing library collections, diversity, inclusion and equality, social media, copyright and emerging technologies.

Demographics & career pathways

The predominantly female and ageing LIS workforce is not news, however survey respondents indicate that these factors are even more pronounced in the school library sector (60% of survey respondents were aged 50+). Lyn also found that many are being employed in positions beyond or outside of their qualification level, especially those employed as library assistants.

The report looks into available options to qualify as a Teacher Librarian (TL), with the quickest way being to complete an undergraduate teaching qual followed by a postgrad LIS qualification with a TL specialisation. There was general support to keep the TL at Masters level rather than Grad Dip. However, the shrinking LIS HE market really reduces the options for people joining the profession, and many TLs join the workforce as a later career choice, which presents both opportunities and challenges in finding ways to harness the diverse skills that people come with.

The report identified many potential avenues to attract people into the sector like creating a campaign targeting careers counsellors in schools, more VET traineeships, subsidising or sponsoring LIS courses for those already working in the sector and creating a way to acknowledge certified stackable training.

Recommendations from the report

Recommendation 1: Establish a Professional Pathways for School Libraries Working Party

Recommendation 2: Clearly articulate professional pathways for the school library sector

Recommendation 3: Work with educators to develop new professional pathways and contextualise accredited courses for the school library sector

Recommendation 4: Develop an employer engagement strategy with school education systems

Recommendation 5: Strengthen professional identity and professional engagement of school library employees in Australia

Listen to Dr Lyn Hay discussing the report and its findings in a Research Review webinar:

Research Review Seminar

Read and download the School Libraries Research Project Report:

School Libraries Research Report