7 Essentials for Every School Library

School libraries fulfill a number of important functions. They are spaces where students come to explore books and reading, where teachers can find educational materials, and where students might come for sanctuary. School librarians do much more than simply keep books organized and in turn they require the right environment and supplies to do their jobs.

There are many school library essentials to keep it running. Librarians and teachers need all of the things that help them to do their jobs, and students want comfortable places to read, work, and play, as well as plenty of books to choose from.

This list outlines some of the top school library essentials that every school library should have, no matter the age of the students.



1. Circulation Tools for Librarians

Librarians need to be able to manage the circulation of books and have a workstation from which to do it. Starting with a circulation desk is a must when sourcing supplies. It gives librarians a hub where students and teachers can find them if needed. There are different shapes you can consider and various additional features you can look for, including storage or displays. Comfortable seating to sit at the desk is essential for librarians to get comfortable working.


As well as a circulation desk, additional circulation tools help librarians manage the circulation of books and other materials. Barcode scanners, date due slips, and stamp and ink pads are just a few handy tools and supplies that librarians might use daily.

2. Shelving and Returning Books

Libraries aren’t all about books, but they are certainly the key theme. Being able to organize and reshelve books is just one of the things librarians need to be able to do among their other duties. Of course, any library needs shelves to display its collection of books. The library’s users should be considered when choosing shelves. Low library shelves allow younger students to independently browse and choose books, while older students can reach higher shelves. Different types of shelving can help you to use the available library space in the best way.


In addition to shelving units, shelf organization tools are useful for setting up and maintaining books. Shelf labels, supports, markers, and displays are some options to consider when considering additional items that might be required for shelving books.

Book return equipment is also essential in any library. Book return units allow students and teachers to return their books without finding a librarian. Book carts make it easier for librarians and their assistants to reshelve books, providing a way to transport them around the library.

3. Workstations for Students

School libraries are often used as spaces for students to work. They might use the library as a class, in small groups, or as individual students who want to work quietly. Workstations for students allow them to work in different ways, whether alone or with others.

Places for students to work can include individual booths and workstations or shared workstations, desks, and tables. Workstations might be set up with computers, but they can also be empty spaces for completing various kinds of work. Certain features and accessories might enhance workspaces, including power stations or modular tables that can be put together or separated for groups of different sizes. Different types of tables to consider for students include media tables and activity tables.

4. Play and Activities

Engaging activities for students are part of what a library can provide to enhance the library experience. Libraries might once have been places of quiet, but today there are often many things happening, from quiet reading to more lively activities. A multitude of items can, and should, be included in a school library to give teachers resources they can use and provide students with fun things to do too. These can include things to make and hands-on activities, ranging from craft kits to robots and STEM learning. There are many options for learning and play, particularly for younger students. Some of the possibilities are activity centers, building sets, and sensory tables.

5. Posters and Displays

Libraries need more than just tables, chairs, and shelves of books. The whole environment should be engaging and suitable for the age of the students using the library. Some ways to engage students when they enter the library include posters and displays. Posters can be educational, colourful, and eye-catching. They can be a great way to promote reading while brightening up the library. They can also teach students valuable research and information skills, such as how to spot fake news and identify reliable sources. Displays can allow you to highlight featured books or other useful materials.

6. Audio Visual Equipment

Audio-visual equipment is a must for any modern library. Students and teachers come to the library to use computers and might also want to use equipment such as printers/photocopiers or scanners, projectors, screens, and TVs. There are multiple items your library might need that fall under the umbrella of AV equipment and electronics. Speakers, tablets, presentation carts, and various other items could be essentials for your library. 

7. A Wide Range of Books

Of course, no library is complete without the right books. Maintaining the library’s collection of books, weeding out those no longer relevant, and keeping everything up to date is a big part of a librarian’s job. There are many topics to cover, and ensuring you have the right books might require coordinating with the administration and teachers. Curating a diverse range of books will ensure you have options for different reading levels, different interests, and students from a range of backgrounds. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether your selection is broad enough, but only whether your student’s book bags can carry all the books they want to read. 

There are a number of school library essentials to allow it to operate efficiently. Librarians and administrators must work together to ensure they have what they need. When looking for essentials, look no further than Canadian Museum & Library Supply. We can provide the top library supplies in Canada, including book bags, library shelves, and so much more.