100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

This Is a Problem: School Libraries That Are Closed All the Time


Look out – I’m fired up today.

I have a message, and it is clear: some school libraries are closed too much.

Closed. Too. Much.

  • If you don’t check out books for a month at the end of every school year to do inventory (which, by the way, is almost completely useless). It’s a problem.
  • If you don’t check out books for a month at the beginning of the school year because . . . I don’t even know why some schools do this, it’s a problem.
  • If you have super-restrictive policies that favor books over students, it’s a problem.

You might read this post and say, “Thanks, Travis, but school libraries don’t do those things anymore.” To that I say, it’s a big world out there and you’d be surprised. I’ve been around for a bit now and have seen and heard a lot.

So for those who need it, a reminder: School libraries exist for kids.


We have materials to offer. Our job should be getting them off our shelves and into student hands as fast as possible.

Think about how many school days a year you aren’t checking out materials. Now think of the reasons why. Are they justifications you’re clinging to, or actual, unavoidable obstacles? Because, you know, WE EXIST FOR KIDS!

I told you I’m fired up.


About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Not just closed, but also shouldn’t be too neat or too quiet! Let them feel ownership when it is open!

  2. I agree 100%!! Most of the schools I visit have active, vibrant libraries where books circulate on a daily basis and the staff is professional and kid-centered. BUT . . . there are others where it’s obvious that the library is under-used and under-staffed and it is no longer a hub of the school. Teachers, parents, students need to make their voices heard when this happens as it is no less serious than when a health clinic or hospital is in decline or closing . . . the kids’ lives depend on it!

  3. Linda Keel says:

    I battle this all the time,,since our media center lab I assist and do all the makeup testing for all our computer testing, We had to close to classes doing research because classes are testing in the lab.

  4. Katelyn Jernigan says:

    At my school, the library is the only place large enough to have special events and presentations, because the gym is used for PE, which is in the related arts rotation. We also use it for testing for 2 weeks, 3 times a year. When it’s closed, it’s usually not my choice. I am usually ever asked either; mostly told indirectly or I supposed to assume it needs to be used.

  5. I agree 100%, and after joining a school librarian facebook page I see a lot of schools that are still ‘old school’ and don’t allow for self checkout, etc… and will close check out anytime they have a class in the library. This is so sad to me! I am only closed the first day of school, but teachers still bring students in to take a tour of the library and meet me. Then I am forced to close down for state testing or if the space is needed for a meeting. These are usually not by choice though. Thankfully, our school is pro-library and pro-reading so my “have-to” close days are very few and far between!