Back-To-School Guide and To-Do List for School Library Staff

It’s that time of year when school supplies appear in shops and we count down the final days of the summer holidays. Heading back to the school library for the start of the year is an exciting time but it can be daunting if you are new to the profession, starting at a new school library or even just a little unsure about what to tackle first. So, here’s a short to-do list of some common tasks you might want to get busy with at the start of the school year.

Make a list of goals and things to achieve

Now, I know I’m giving you a do-to list, but it’s a great idea to create your own. I create one of goals and one of tasks. Goals are the bigger things I want to achieve, maybe in the term or year. It might include weeding and updating a particular collection or focusing on promoting fiction using various methods. My task to-do list includes things I need to do each day or week and helps me makes sure I’m achieving everything I need to. Having these lists is incredibly helpful, particularly once the term gets underway. Checking back in to see what you’ve achieved and still want to achieve can help prevent getting swept away by the constant demands you’ll face in the school library which can all too easily take up 100% of your focus and time.

Update your library management system.

At the start of the school year, your school library management system will need to be updated and your student details updated. Your management system will provide instructions on how to do this, so check their help guides, and it will depend on if your system updates and student data is done automatically or manually. Tasks might include setting the loan and holidays dates, rolling over student year levels, installing updates, and adding new staff and students to the system.

Welcome new staff

Each year, there is usually a fresh lot of new staff to welcome. If you can, get involved in the induction and welcome process, so you can show them the library or at least send them a welcome email with information on how they can use the library resources and services. You might like to create and share a welcome brochure or goodie bag.

Plan your lessons

If you are responsible for taking library lessons, it’s important to get these planned. Work in collaboration with class teachers, check for a whole school curriculum plan that will help you align information and digital literacy lessons with curriculum topics, make reading promotion key, and keep students engaged.


The start of a new school year is the perfect time to plan your displays for the year. Here’s a post on how I do that. Your displays don’t have to be massive masterpieces, but even planning your pop-up or within shelf displays can be very helpful. You might link your displays to special events, author visits, term themes, or curriculum units. You’ll find lots of display ideas, themes and even downloadable here, on sites like Pinterest or by following other librarians on social media.


It’s also a good time to plan your events for the year. Check the school calendar, what events are already planned that you could be part of in the library? What events do you want to focus on or host in the library? Will you have author visits, Book Week? Here’s a special calendar of book and library related events.

Budget update

The start of the school year might not align with the financial year, but each school does things differently, so it’s a good idea to check in with the finance team to see what the state of the school library’s budget is, and what funds are available to spend.

Tidy shelves and put books cover out

I always enjoy resetting my shelves at the start of the year. This includes putting as many books out facing forward as is possible. Checking signage is correct and in place also helps students find what they need and makes sure the library is looking nice for the start of the year.

Reset your space

Check out your library space and make little tweaks for the start of the year and reset furniture after it might have been packed up for the year.

Check the tech

After the school holidays, any tech housed in the library is probably going to need an update, reboot or charge.

Get your policies in order

With the state of the world these days, it’s also a good idea to have your school library policies, including your collection development and challenge policy ready to go.

Meet with leadership and attend planning meetings

There will be plenty of professional development staff days, staff briefings or email updates, but it’s a great idea to check in with your school leadership team about the school goals for the year and how the school library can support them, plus connect with curriculum and subject area leaders, attend planning meetings and ensure the library is meeting their resource and information literacy needs.


What would you add to this list of back-to-school tasks for the school library? Maybe restocking bookmark supplies, getting your book talks ready? There is certainly lots to do. No matter what you decide to do first, good luck and have a great year.