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Library and inquiry- How Library/ian can foster inquiry?


This article is adapted from the book The Power of Inquiry.

“When we move to the heart of inquiry, it is about engagement, lighting a fire within students, so they want to investigate and find out more. The inquiry is not a single ‘method’ or a program… It is about how you think about learning and the relationship between teaching and learning. It is about how you see yourself and is at the heart of what you do and why you do it.” (Murdoch and Claxton)

Library is the hub of inquiry. It is a place that invites students, teachers and community members to fulfil their quest for inquiry. To this end the way the library and resources are organized, the ways resources are used are all designed to induce inquiry. During this process of inquiry it fosters development of ATL skills such as critical thinking, self-management, collaboration, communication and above all research skills

Libraries are also vibrant places where inquiry takes place in many forms. Whether it is spontaneous, structured, shared, individual or project-oriented inquiry, it is essential to create environment conducive for inquiry, encourage inquiry, and to some extent direct it.

How library/ian can foster inquiry?

The flexible, equitable learning environment

Provide students with comfortable and flexible seating possibilities
Create spaces for group reading and quiet individual learning.
Attractive and visible displays of books and magazines with signage.
It can be a busy space that engages students in gathering information and exchanging ideas instead of a total quiet library space,
Plan outdoor library classes for practical and aesthetic reasons.
Design library spaces with natural sunlight and adequate ventilation.

Emotional environment

For a successful inquiry process, emotional environment is equally important along with the physical environment. The environments where students feel respectful as well as safe to express themselves make them confident in asking questions.

Use the informal time to chat with students about their interests and goals in their lives, which is an excellent opportunity to build rapport with them.

Open access

Organize books in ways that aid students to have easy access to materials they need.
Provide OPAC catalog to find the books in relevant sections and locate them on the shelf
Provide adequate signage for students to understand the layout of the Dewey ranges on the shelves


Develop and use collection with a combination of print and digital resources, iPads, Kindles, and other audio-visual aids. Develop an inclusive collection that reflects the diverse needs of the school community. The library should be continually evolving in terms of resource collection that is responsive to the growing needs of teaching and learning community.


Librarians do not stay seated, isolated in the library but collaborate with teachers to share their resources, expertise, and to help students to acquire information literacy skills. For example, we collaborated with our Individuals and Societies teacher on the unit of ‘culture’ to support students on developing a research question,  identifying primary and secondary resources, note-taking strategies, and creating bibliographies.
Collaborate with the parent community in support of mother tongue and build those collections (as best possible) to facilitate and strengthen collection that supports multilingualism. Involve students in the selection of materials so that students have an added sense of ownership of the library. Collaborate with local public libraries such as the British Library or University library. Publishing Library newsletter also helps to connect to the teaching, learning and parent community

Transform library into centers of active learning.

Celebrate Student’s work in the library Encourage students to write book reviews and use online tools like blogs to share their experiences. Display a wonder-wall where students can post their inquiry questions. Invite authors, local enthusiasts, and organizations that give students an exposure to the real world. Organize events such as author birthdays, Literary Fest, World Book Day, and other exciting occasions that engages students into active learning.


Librarians play a crucial role to support inquiry in culminating projects such as the exhibition in the final year of PYP (Primary Years Programme), the Personal Project in the MYP (Middle Years Programme), the Extended Essay and Internal Assessments in the IBDP (Diploma Programme). Assist students in identifying and locating resources in various phases of inquiry in the project.

Empower students with the research skills required for the project.

We at VKE see ourselves not only as a resource person but play a significant role in enabling students in the implementation of research skills such as evaluating resources, developing citation skills, and support report writing skills.

The inquiry librarian has to be innovative and try new things to improve library services and continually be inquiring into their practices. They are the role models to show students that they are learners too. An inquiry mindset can be contagious when we make it visible and audible to others.


Crouch, Stuart. “How Do You Build Your Library to Support Inquiry-Led Learning?” News from around the IB Community, 19 Jan. 2016, Accessed 7 Jun. 2019

Murdoch, Kath, and Guy Claxton. The Power of Inquiry. Seastar Education, 2015.

Sullivan, Margaret. “Divine Design: How to Create the 21st-Century School Library of Your Dreams.” Smith System, Dec. 2015, Accessed 7 Jun. 2019


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