Setting Up a School Library: A Resource Guide
ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 16b
"How do I set up a library?" is a question the American Library Association receives from people in a wide range of situations. In some cases, the need is to organize a large personal or office collection; in others it is to set up a library where there is, at the beginning, only the desire to have library service where there is none, such as in a village where a Peace Corps volunteer is working.
Establishing a new library, or developing an existing collection of books and other materials into a library, involves several functions: creating the oversight or governance structure, defining the mission and purpose of the organization, securing funding, planning, developing a collection, securing or building an appropriate space, equipping the space, and marketing services. In all cases, planning for the collection should come first:
For information on starting a school library, begin with the resources compiled by ALA's American Association of School Librarians (AASL, a division of ALA <http://www.ala.org/aasl>), the AASL Essential Links: Resources for School Library Media Program Development Wiki:
Additionally, each state will have specific resources available through governmental and library agencies, such as:
- Your state department of education, as they may have some guidelines
- Your state school library association (known as the AASL Affiliate Assembly)
- Your state library
- Your state and regional library association (which are chapters of ALA)
Selected books by ALA/AASL and other publishers
- See the complete list of AASL Books & Products.
- See the Books for School Librarians section of the ALA Online Store, which brings in a broader range of library topics.
---. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (Download the free Adobe Reader PDF from this page, available in high and low resolution). Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.
---. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action . Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.
Bush, Gail (ed.) and American Association of School Librarians. School Library Media Programs in Action: Civic Engagement, Social Justice, and Equity . Chicago: American Library Association, 2009.
Coatney, Sharon (ed). The Many Faces of School Library Leadership. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.
Downs, Elizabeth. The School Library Media Policy and Procedure Writer. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009.
Farmer, Lesley S.J. and Marc E. McPhee. The Neal-Schuman Technology Management Handbook for School Library Media Centers. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010.
Kerby, Mona. Collection Development for the School Library Media Program: A Beginner's Guide. Chicago: American Library Association, 2006.
Martin, Barbara Stein and Marco Zannier. Fundamentals of School Library Media Management. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2009.
Montiel-Overall, Patricia, and Donald C. Adcock. School Library Services in a Multicultural Society. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008.
Morris, Betty J. Administering the School Library Media Center. 5th ed. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.
Nebraska Educational Media Association. Guide for Developing and Evaluating School Library Programs. Santa Barbara, Calif: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.
Rosenfeld, Esther and David V. Loertscher, eds. Toward a 21st-Century School Library Media Program. Lanham, MA: Scarecrow Press, 2007.
Santa Clara County (Calif.). Where Do I Start?: A School Library Handbook, Second Edition. Santa Barbara, California: Linworth, 2012.
Toor, Ruth, and Hilda K. Weisburg. New on the Job: A School Library Media Specialist's Guide to Success. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.
Vance, Anita L, and Robbie Nickel. Assessing Student Learning in the School Library Media Center. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007.
Wasman, Ann M. New Steps to Service: Common-Sense Advice for the School Library Media Specialist. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998.
Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.
--- and David V. Loertscher. Whole School Library Handbook 2. Chicago: ALA, 2013.
Selected periodicals by ALA/AASL and other publishers
Knowledge Quest. Official journal of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). ISSN 1094-9046. Published bimonthly, September through June. Sent to all AASL members as part of membership, available by subscription to nonmembers.
School Library Research (SLR). An official journal of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), AASL's scholarly refereed research journal. Receive notification of new research manuscripts and features as they are added to School Library Research by adding your e-mail address to the SLR electronic notification list (you do not have to be an AASL member).
Additional school library print and online resources have been collected at the delicious account of this office, at:
Last updated: May 2013
For more information on this or other fact sheets, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.