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Non-fiction collections in school libraries. Do we really need them?

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

A boy lying on his front with his head resting on his hand reading a book with a smile on his face.
Reading non-fiction for pleasure

Ruth Maloney and I run a Twitter Spaces chat every other week during term time. We pick topics that we think school librarians and teachers might find interesting. Over the last year, we have talked about many things, from leadership to collection management and from reading to supporting transition. The reason is to give a voice to school librarians and it seems that our latest one on non-fiction collections has just gone viral... Ok, not quite but we have had over 1.3k listened to it, so it feels like it has. To join our next one just follow either @elizabethutch or @RuthMaloney30 where we share the link to the chat before it happens.

Our next chat was on Monday 6th June at 7pm BST and we talked about

Book Awards - Why are teenage books so angsty? Check out the blog post about this chat here

Do school libraries need non-fiction collections?

I wanted to give you some quick takeaways from this session in case you don't have time to listen to the recording.

  • Students are the priority and potential a school library's biggest advocate so build your collections around them and their interests. What are their hobbies for example?

  • Reading for Pleasure is not just fiction. Our role is to help our students to find out about the world and understand their place in it. Our non-fiction collections can do this.

  • School library budgets are small. Don't waste them on teachers or subjects where there is no collaboration. The best-used curriculum resources come from collaboration through collaborative inquiry projects. Only spend money in these areas when you know teachers will work with you.

  • Weeding the non-fiction stock is a must. Lots of outdated books on your shelves do not engage anyone. You are much better to have a few quality resources and build on them, than full shelves that no one looks at.

  • Online resources can enhance your non-fiction collections. Online non-fiction is still non-fiction!

So do we really need our non-fiction collections? In my opinion yes... we just need to build up a collection that is going to be used and is of value focusing firstly on our students and whilst working on our teachers. If a student never opens a non-fiction book before they actually need it, when they do an EPQ for example, them how will they ever learn how to navigate them...

Mr Terborg @mrterborg on Twitter shared this great article about the importance of non-fiction for our student's learning. Non-Fiction in the Early Grades: A key to reading success by Emily Miksic. If you are interested in knowing why reading non-fiction is important it is a must-read.

If you want to listen to the chat yourself here is the link to the recording

If you would rather listen to this chat as a podcast here is the link for this.

If you would like to listen to any of the Twitter Spaces podcasts check them out here

I do keep a recording of all these sessions that you can access as a member so if you want more of the same please check out my membership page.

Ruth and I would love to hear what you would like us to talk about in the future. If you have any ideas please put them in the comments below. Thanks!

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