School libraries fostering children's literacy and literature learning: Mitigating the barriers

Document Type

Journal Article


John Wiley & Sons


School of Education




This work was supported by a Copyright Agency Cultural Fund Grant (2017003).


Originally published as: Merga, M. K. (2019). School libraries fostering children's literacy and literature learning: Mitigating the barriers. Literacy. Advance online publication. Original publication available here


While qualified school librarians can have a positive influence on children's literacy attainment, very little consideration is given to the educative role of librarians in schools. Lack of attention on these librarians' educative capacity may be due to a devaluing of the educational contribution of school librarians, and it can be argued that school libraries are poorly valued in current times, as evidenced in cuts to budgets and staffing. While school librarians may foster literacy and literature learning through a range of strategies, and for diverse purposes, perhaps their most expected contribution relates to the fostering of literacy and literature learning through wide reading and reading engagement in students. However, little is known about the specific barriers that librarians in schools may encounter in achieving these goals in the current school environment. Research from teacher librarians at 30 Australian schools is drawn upon to explore barriers to children's literacy and literature learning in school libraries. Recurring barriers were limited time and competing demands, crowded curriculum, low teacher valuing, low student engagement, skills and motivation, issues with parental support, limited space and constrained budget. These findings provide a valuable foundation for future inquiry in this under‐researched space.