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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 158-82(ws)-E
Division Number: III.
Professional Group: School Libraries and Resource Centres: Workshop co-sponsored by the National Library of Canada
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 82.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

School Library Manifesto

Gwynneth Evans
Director General
National and International Programs
National Library of Canada


School Library Manifesto

Fourth Draft

I. Introduction

II. The School Library Programme

III. Mission and Goals of the School Library

IV. Staff

V. Funding, Legislation and Networks

VI. Operation and Management

VII. Implementing the Manifesto

Version 4


I. Introduction

"The World Declaration on Education for All" highlights the right of all children and young people to have access to essential "learning tools" (such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy, and problem-solving) and basic "learning content" (such as knowledge, skills, values and attitudes). (1)

More particularly, the "Convention on the Rights of Children" states the right of children to freedom of expression, a right that "shall include freedom to seek, receive and import information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of arts or through any other media of the child's choice". (2)

Access to information and ideas and to those trained in managing information services and teaching information-handling skills is fundamental to establishing the "four pillars of learning" described in Learning: The Treasure Within: learning to learn; learning to do; learning to live with others; and learning to be. (3)

The purpose of this Manifesto is to define and advance the role of school libraries and resource centers (4) in enabling students to acquire the learning tools and learning content that will allow them to survive; to develop their full capacities; to continue to learn throughout their lives; and to make informed decisions. (5)

II. The School Library Programme

The school library programme provides learning services and resources that enable all members of the school community to become effective users of information and ideas in all formats and media. The school library and its staff are invaluable to those who wish to acquire and cultivate learning tools and learning content. The library and staff also offer support in developing and using all available resources, ranging from fictional to documentary and from print to electronic, both on-site and remote. (6)

School library services are provided equally to all members of the school community, including students, teachers, other staff members and volunteers and regardless of age, race, sex, religion, nationality, language or professional or social status. Specific services and materials must be provided for those who cannot, for whatever reason, use regular library services and materials (e.g., those who belong to linguistic minorities or who have disabilities).

School libraries offer material relevant to the needs of students and teachers, including traditional materials such as books, magazines and newspapers, and material available in non-traditional media (e.g., microform) and through modern technologies. There should be representative works of various periods and cultures, both past and present, and high quality and relevance to local and national needs and conditions are fundamental. Access to services and collections should not be subject to any form of ideological, political or religious censorship, or to commercial pressures. The materials should complement and enrich the school curricula's textbooks, teaching materials and methodologies. When teachers and librarians work together, student achievement improves in reading, learning, problem-solving, and developing computer- and information-literacy.

III. Mission and Goals of the School Library

The mission of the school library is to nurture the educational process.

The following are essential to the development of information, literacy, teaching, learning and culture, and are core school library services:

The school library fulfills these functions by developing policies and programmes; selecting and acquiring resources; providing physical and intellectual access to appropriate sources of information; providing instructional facilities; and employing trained staff.

IV. Staff

The school librarian is the qualified staff member responsible for planning and managing the school library programme, who works in concert with all members of the school community, including educators, instructors, administrators, students, and parents.

It is recognized that "the role of school librarians will vary according to the educational objectives of the schools, teaching methodology, the national legal framework, financial situation, etc." (7) Within specific contexts, there are three general areas of knowledge that are vital if school librarians are to develop and operate effective school library programmes. They are:

In an increasingly technological environment, school librarians must be competent in planning and teaching different information-handling skills to teachers and students. They become competent by taking theoretical and practical courses during initial training and using further opportunities for on-site and distance education. (8)

V. Funding, Legislation and Networks

The school library is essential to any long-term strategy for literacy, education, information provision and economic, social and cultural development. As the responsibility of local and provincial/state and/or national authorities, it must be supported by specific legislation and policies. It must have adequate and sustained funding for trained staff, materials, technologies and facilities, and it shall, in principle, be free of charge.

To ensure national library coordination and cooperation in the establishment of legislation, policies and plans that are based on recognized standards of service, the school library should participate in the national library and information network. This network takes into account the information needs of all library users, and represents all libraries.

The distinct purposes of different types of library services must be recognized, although it is possible that library services for different users may share facilities and/or resources. For example, the facilities of a public library and a school library might be combined, but the distinct aims of both libraries must be understood and acknowledged.

VI. Operation and Management

VII. Implementing the Manifesto

Decision makers and educators at local and national levels and members of the library community around the world are hereby urged to implement the principles in this Manifesto.


  1. World Declaration on Education for All, Jomtien, Thailand, 5-9 March 1990 (Article 1, para. 1).

  2. UN Convention on the Rights of Children, adopted November 1989.

  3. Learning: The Treasure Within: Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century (Paris: UNESCO, 1996), p 85+.

  4. The terms "school library" and "school librarian" are used in this text to encompass a range of terms employed by different countries to designate the policies, programmes, services and staff of the library within a school. Such terms as "information center", "documentation center", "resource center", "media center", and "learning center" are included in the term "school library", while the terms "teacher-librarian", "school library media specialist", "teacher documentalist", "information technologist", and "information specialist" are meant by the term "school librarian".

  5. World Declaration on Education for All (article 1, para. 3).

  6. Communiqué/Announcement: Nouveau nom de la Section des bibliothèques scolaires (IFLA)/New Name of the Section of School Libraries (printemps/spring, 1997).

  7. Sigrún Keara Hannesdóttir, School Librarians: Guidelines for Competency Requirements (The Hague: IFLA Headquarters, 1995), p. 11.

  8. Ibid., p. 11-17.