Amanda Credaro February 2002

QUESTION: What is the usual practice at your school regarding wet weather arrangements for the school’s library? Are other teachers deployed to assist with supervision, or do you limit the number of students who are allowed to enter?

This question was posted to NSWTL, the listserve for NSW DET school librarians, also to OZTL_NET, the listserve for Australian school library workers, and LM_Net, the American listserve for Library Media Specialists (the equivalent term for school librarians/teacher librarians).

…. on the Occupational Health & Safety Issue (I restricted the library to 70 children then closed the door). On Wet Days in my primary school - students were supervised in classrooms; the library was only open for borrowing & those students who had prior computer bookings - not for general browsing/hanging out. …. restrict [to] those who have something to do such as homework, borrowing, etc ie. They come with something in their hand!

[The library] has the space equivalent of 4 classroom, and with 20 computers.

Sue Lacey
Barrack Heights PS

I agree with a previous respondent re: viewing the situation as an O H & S issue. At my large school (500 primary) , other non class teachers and I are rostered through the week to relieve a teacher, recess and/or lunchtime, who does not have a buddy class next door. If it is wet lunchtime and I am not rostered to do duty in the classroom, then I get time for lunch, instead! The library is closed in wet weather, otherwise I too would have a cast of thousands being sent out of or wishing to leave their classrooms.

Unfortunately in some wet weeks I end up doing more duties than I normally have, because I do recess wet duty as well as lunch, but then so do class teachers, so I don't really complain. Better to supervise a class of 30 more often, than to have the hordes descending!

Patricia Sofios
 North Sydney Dem. School.

I have about 80-90 green cards. I call on the Science Assistant for help. She stands at the door and hands out the cards. When she runs out of cards - no one enters until someone leaves. It works. The kids (I hope) see it as fair. (Everything I try to do has that as its foundation - equal opportunity and fairness for all) As for extra help in the library, on one or two occasions does a teacher listed for playground duty walk in on a rainy day.

Patricia Grant
Quakers Hill High School

I have a wet weather policy of issuing cards to students as access passes. I have one card per seat. When all cards are issued they then queues outside and waits for someone to leave. Works well and is fair and they know that there are people waiting so if they misbehave they are out. Mind you we also have a policy where the playground duty teacher on the back oval, a no go zone in the wet, then reports to the library to help.

Christine Sugowdz
Galston High School

I work in a private girls’ school of approx 800 students in 7-12 . Lunchtime supervision is always myself and the senior library assistant. No other staff are ever rostered on to assist during lunch. However, the Commander system for videos is connected to every classroom and during wet weather, the girls are allowed have their lunch in the rooms and our AV librarian plays a video for their entertainment; consequently on wet days, the numbers in our library are usually lower than normal.

Gail Lyn Windeatt White
Ravenswood School for Girls

One of the playground area supervisers changes to the library during wet weather so I have another teacher here. Then if really bad, I stand at the door and refuse to let students in until others leave.

Roberta Woolcott
Epping Boys'

At my school in wet weather a person on playground duty is rostered to come to Library as obviously they cannot stand in rain in playground. It is stated on playground roster where they each go in wet weather so it occurs automatically. The TL is not required to go get them!

Muirfield High

Pittwater is a Govt. High School, enrolments approx 700. Yes I battle on regardless but I do limit the numbers if there end up being too many kids to sit at the tables or on the lounge chairs and at computer workstations - then I call it quits.

Mind you I can fit three classrooms into my Library so some days I will have over 100 kids in there. Generally, the busier it is the stricter I become.

Generally the kids are pretty co-operative but you only need someone to start something and it can quickly fall to pieces if there are too many kids. I don't get any official help but then I don't ask for it anymore either. I got no support to have extra staff rostered to keep the Library open all of lunch. Then they also tried to roster me on to sport. That was when I closed the Library for half of each lunch as at that stage I was having no breaks.

Lyn Bradley 
Pittwater High School

I had a discussion about this with some teachers and the Fed rep. when I came here - re numbers in the library and playground duty etc. The feed back I got was that teachers on playground duty have far more than 30 in their area to watch over and thus so should we. I said that was reasonable except that the library was a confined space, rather like a very large classroomn or a hall (but on three different levels )and that I didn't think that one teacher would be expected to oversee, for instance, all the Year 8's or even half( ie 80-90 kids)in the hall by him/herself for 30 mins., would he?

I have indicated my willingness to have free access at first lunch if they can find another teacher to help me then. (yeah right) I now have had no complaints with my practice of limiting First lunch access to 30-40 by insisting on directed work/reading to be done- no general wandering about.(Usually 40 in wet weather because I'm so sweet and kind) Second lunch, when I have another teacher, access is unlimited and everyone is happy.

Sue Pitt
Shalvey High School

At my last school (state high) as a teacher librarian we had a limit on numbers at lunchtime. 30 per teacher librarian. Other teachers were not put in the library.

Jenny Cambell 

In the past I have only accepted a reasonable number of students. When I consider the library "full" I only allow students in as others leave. (4 out/4 in). No-one has ever questioned this in the past. [The acceptable number of students is] whatever you are comfortable with. I think it has much to do with size of library and layout, but personally I draw the line at about 45.

Deb Mulholland 
Cronulla High School

Primary students are allowed in their classrooms with come impromptu supervision, some teachers agree to supervise some students in their classrooms, some kids stay under the shelters, and we get more or less the regular patrons. We have 180 students, K - 12.

Kate Reid
Lockhart Central School

St Agnes campus years (7 –10) has very little undercover area and I seem to attract the whole school on wet days. I have asked that teachers on duty in open areas (where there would be few students) take a walk through the library as part of their duty but it rarely happens. Sometimes my assistant will try to control the door and keep students out while I try to control inside but it is a nightmare.

Our new library is planned to be above a large covered area of the same size.

Brian Ralph 

I have worked in several primary and high school libraries, Two things I have seen work well in primary are

In high schools, all students in the library in wet weather must be seated and then the doors are locked!


We are a boy's catholic secondary of 1,000+. We have a sign that says "one out one in" which is often used, even when it is not raining. Today we didn't need our sign for some reason. It is not always easy to enforce, but we have two assistants and one stays at the desk where she is in yelling distance of the door(!).

I'd really like a teacher just outside the library where the crowd often gathers to wait for entry, eating pies and coke and leaving debris. Oh well, you can't have everything.


I am new to the school library here this year. However, in the past I understand that in really cold and/or wet weather that the normal p/g duty teachers are allocated inside areas including an extra person to the library area. I think it works well. (State High school in a rural area; approx 500 students.)

Paula Draper
Billabong High School

At our primary school, the policy is that the students stay in their classrooms if it is raining at breaks. The class teachers are responsible for looking after their classes.

Lyn Robinson

On wet weather days the library closes, as the kids are all to return to their classes after eating and no actual 'playtime' occurs outside that day. The teachers of course HATE wet weather lunches with a passion except on the days they would have had playground duty. I on the other hand LOVE them!!!!

Lesa Landon
Sandy Strait State School

I am at a public primary school. On wet days I close the library. We have a system where 2 teachers share duty in their rooms with their classes as no one goes out on wet days. This means each teacher has half the lunch break off. I don't share a duty with anyone and since students are to stay in their room they don't come to the library. I have no problems with this as wet days are the only days I don't have a duty.

Bernadette Cassidy
Westport Public School, Port Macquarie

We are a 7-12 girls Catholic College with appox 650 students One Wet weather days all the home rooms are opened up so that the students can use them. Our Cafe also has room (converts from 4 classrooms to a open area during lunchtime.)for quite a few.

The computer labs (2) are also open during lunch. The library does get quite full (up to 130) on those days but I must admit we are so lucky because we rarely have any problems even when it gets this full. The girls are just so good they will just come in and sit around talking if they are not using computers,researching or reading. We have two staff on during lunch and a third can be there if it gets really busy.


My school is a gov. primary school (largish). During wet weather the library is closed. Children stay in their classrooms where teachers supervise their own class plus the class next door. Teachers take turns to have a break. Specialist teachers and admin. are allocated an area for half the break so children are supervised going to the tuckshop, toilet etc.

Kim Higgs
Deception Bay North State School
Deception Bay Q

I am from a independent school of 900+ students and we have just moved out of a library that had places for 36 bodies. My standard rule from the day I walked into the place was that at recess and lunchtime students were "Working or reading or out!."

Mrs Cecilia Sutton
St Paul's Anglican Grammar School
Warragul, Vic

We are a comprehensive high school of about 1150 students. Our library is not overly large and therefore I do have to restrict the number of students on a daily basis as well as a wet weather basis. I only allow 'workers' at lunch time. Basically, this means no loitering! I will always allow students to borrow and some 'outcast types' who seek refuge here, but on the whole no student comes in unless they have some school work to do.

On wet weather days I also take seniors first, then first in up to overflow point. This means every chair used and all available floor space that can be used as seating. It can be a bit abitrary, but unfortunately there isn't any other choice. I have 2 full time SASS ladies and they assist with general supervision and 'door duty'.

Rosemary Richards
Prairiewood Languages High School 
Smithfield NSW

I have a high school enrolment just shy of 500. The policy has been preference to year 11 and 12 only to the library at this time (wet weather, and other students at the TLs discretion. I find whenever there is more than about 30 students in our double class size library, momentum and corresponding noise grows, and the restless element enters the equation. Usually the library is open to readers, browsers, chess, computers, study, work; but I am still having to constantly cull out the non-compliant. Our library is not designed or made to be a 'hush-hush' place in order to encourage students to view the library favourably.

Sue Webb
Gloucester High school NSW

We just battle on regardless however we do have quite a bit of undercover area to provide shade for our 950 children which they can use if it is the wet season. Ususally, I allow up to 100 students, after that, it becomes a bit unmanageable.

Miriam Stephens 
Edge Hill State School
Cairns., Qld.

The library is closed on wet weather. I find it more hectic in these summer months in WA as the children want to get out of the heat. If I find I am getting too crowded I just lock the main door in and leave it at that. If I have 60 I am getting crowded as I have limited floor space.

Lyn Brown
Huntingdale PS (WA)

Last year I had Lib. lunch duty twice a week, the other three lunchtimes were taken by two other secondary teachers . The Lib. was open for half an hour each 60 minute lunchtime. The main users of the Lib. in this time were P-6 students, whose behaviour was uniformly appalling (long-term Lib. culture problem in our school); at any one time, I (or the other poor non-TL bod who scored lunch duty) could have maybe 50 kids in there...increase that by heaps when the weather was either really cold, or wet, or hot! There are no limits imposed by anyone (not sure how we could enforce it, though I've thought of it) and there's no assistance: whoever's on duty on that day, cops it sweet!

So, as of the start of this year, and I've made it "official" by publishing it in the school newsletter, the Lib. is not open at lunchtimes until further notice. It really goes against the grain to have the Lib. closed but I feel it is pointless to have it open under the conditions, which have previously prevailed.

Julie Thomas 
Bright P-12 College 

I am Library Coordinator of a 7-12 Govt school in Victoria. We have approx 600 students. Our school has a "wet weather" policy which means students can use various classrooms at lunchtime. We still get a lot in the library! I generally allow about 50+ to come in. It depends on the composition of students - too many silly Year 8's or somewhat quieter VCE students. Once I have the number that I feel I can handle I clip the front door and don't let any new ones in unless they have a really good reason for coming in. If a number leave I will let some more in.

Margot Lucas

For wet days we have a year level timetabled for the library and they watch a video. Other year levels go to other areas for videos or activities depending on the supervising teacher. … My Admin team realise how much time we do at lunchtimes and are supportive.

Cherie Sherley   
 Mackay North SS Queensland

I am in a gov. primary school with approx 410 students. There is a pre-school attached. We have a restricted play policy and a wet weather policy. Restricted play is when it is not raining but has been and the ovals are too wet/muddy etc to play on. The library is open if it is a restricted play time. Teachers who would normally be on duty on the oval roam the areas that children are allowed to be in - the two covered games areas and the library.

As for restricting numbers I use my own discretion. I accept a higher noise level on these days too If it is a wet lunch, the library is closed. Children are allowed out of their classrooms to eat and are supervised by the aides for 15 mins. The rest of the time children are back in their classrooms and supervision is shared by the teachers concerned.

When we had an odd number of classes, I would share the classroom supervision with one class. I have a lunch break before the rest of the school and as I'm diabetic, my lunchbreak is sacrosacnt. Since we now have an even no. of classes, I go to the pre-school to give the pre-school teacher a lunchbreak.

The principal who introduced this policy had asked me if I would share the classroom supervision. I had pointed out to him that I couldn't do that and have the library open as well. So he decided to close the library. (I think because he would have had to do some classroom supervision and it solved a problem for him.

Helen McDonald

When we have a wet lunch-hour, the kids stay in the classrooms and so no-one comes to the library.

Mary Maguire
St. Anthony's School
Alexandra Hills. Q. 4161

At our State School (Roma Middle) catering for 650 students in Years 4-10, on wet days students stay in their form rooms with their form (or other) teachers.

Margaret Ashburn 

We take the lot, without any extra staff, as usual. The most I've seen was just over sixty students in the library one lunchtime with just me on duty. I don't think any of them were studying. We're an independent P-12 school of 750+ students.

Carole Bird 
Plenty Valley Christian School
Doreen, Vic 3754

[In wet weather] nothing happens. I have to cope as best I can. Usually I ask friends on staff to help me out. This is hard on my friends but admin. ignores the problem.

Nola Thorpe
Newhaven College VIC

We are a govt. primary school in suburban Darwin, with around 400 students. Because of our climate here this is not an issue very often - certainly not in terms 2 and 3! When it does rain at lunchtime, teachers work out a system with a neighbouring class so they get a coffee/toilet break etc. I don't normally do the library duty (separate issue) but I do it on wet days. If there are too many students in the library? I turn them away. Simple. They have a classroom to go to. Sometimes the ESL teacher or the Special Ed teacher gives me a hand. But in reality, it only happens a couple of times a wet season.

Marita Maloney Moil PS, Northern Territory.

We function as normal on wet days, with the library open and staffed by the same number of staff. If necessary we restrict student numbers - staff/student ratios apply equally to teacher-librarians as they do to classroom teachers . One way we have found of restricting student numbers is to only allow students in who have work or something tor read. This gets rid of the socialisers.

Amanda Ellingworth
Mooroolbark Heights SC VIC

Victorian government 7-12 secondary school, 1260 students approx. Our school reallocates yard duty teachers to the library on wet days. The teachers rostered to the oval come to the library. We do not have a limit on the number of students in the library, but we tell unsettled and noisy students to go to wet weather rooms. 120 students in a Commonwealth style library is not uncommon on a wet day, thankfully lunch time is shortened.

Karen Malbon 
Strathmore Secondary College VIC 

At the Government Primary School in which I work, when the wet weather bell is rung, the classroom teachers gather up their half eaten lunch and return to their classrooms to supervise their students. There is nothing set down in writing about the Library but what seems to happen is that some students leave to go back to their rooms, some stay, and new ones arrive! We haven't had an overcrowding problem at this stage, but I would think that there would be some sort of safety law somewhere which states how many young people you can cram into a limited area!

Helen Chapman
Springfield Gardens Primary School TAS

At our school (primary, 320 students) the children come out to their undercover eating areas (lower, middle and upper school) for the first 10 -15 minutes. They are supervised while eating by the Principal, Deputy and me (T/L) while the classroom teachers grab a coffee and a quick bite to eat.

Then the children return to their classrooms where their teachers supervise for the rest of the lunchtime - often watching a video or playing board games etc supervise them. Usually the teachers work together and one watches the class for the first half of the break and the other takes over so they get a little more time to eat. [This is] far more civilised than other schools where I have worked where all 320 students would have been in the library with just me to supervise!

The Teacher Librarian,
Brighton State School QLD


In Connecticut the teachers have to keep them in the classrooms for indoor recess, except for the lunch hour when the school board pays for lunch period aides, who take them to the gym to run off their steam. The library staff may be gifted with some few of those who can't handle the activity in confined quarters. This is generally voluntary on the part of the librarian and is either a preventative measure or a stop gap before or after the office has seen the darlings. They are expected to either sit quietly and read or be working on a project (dusting, shelving, book processing, etc.) assigned by the librarian.

The numbers of these dears that would be additional to the assigned classes in the library will be limited and so would the time they might spend in the library. Stepping out of line would get them excused from the library as well.

Dorothy E. Tissair, M.L.S. 
Old Saybrook, CT 06475

During inclement weather we have indoor recess in the classrooms monitored by a designated teacher. They rotate through so one person doesn't do it all the time. Each grade level works out their own schedule. Most of our classrooms have open areas or movable doors so that the entire grade level can meet in one area. On occasion some students may come to the library, but not enough for it to be a problem. I usually have more students during the nice weather when allergies can be a big problem.

Debra Balsam 
Arlington, VA

This is a safety issue -- generally there is a set number of students per adult considered appropriate (probably set somewhere in district guidelines), the number increases as they go up in grade level.

Look to childcare facility guidelines, if nothing else. Also look to fire safety regulations - how many bodies are allowed in the space.

Colleen Mills Williams
Frostproof Middle Senior High School
1000 N. Palm Ave Frostproof, FL 33843

My high school is in wet Portland, Oregon, where we normally have more rainy days than dry ones. The library is open to anyone and everyone at lunch, with no additional supervision beyond my assistant and me.

Martha Decherd  
Portland, Oregon

I am a school library media specialist at a middle school in Oklahoma. On bad weather days, all the kids go to the gym and sit on the bleachers (7th grade on one side and 8th grade on another). No one is allowed to wander around throughout the building during recess time.

I am expected to do outside lunch duty at least once a week. Since I am a duty person just like the teachers in my building, I do not allow students to come to the library during lunch in bad weather days. They're not supposed to be in the building during recess. I do not have a planning period and work all 7 class periods by myself here in the school library media center, so I don't mind closing during lunch. Everyone is entitled to a little free time during the day.

Deborah Maehs, 
Kingfisher Middle School
Kingfisher, OK 73750

School starts at 8:00 and teachers have to be signed by 7:45 unless they have duty (one week a month) and then they have to be at school, on duty by 7:30. Children are not suppose to come on campus untill 7:30, but we have parents who drop their children off as early as 6:00! Our children have three choices, rain or shine. They can go to the lunchroom if they want to eat breakfast or they can go to the gym or library. Teachers on duty are there to supervise.

I come EVERY morning at 7:30 to open the library. If I get to school earlier, and I often do, I let any kids who are on campus come on in the library. Neither of the other places will let them in early. Two of the weeks I have a teacher who comes in for their one week of duty and the other two weeks of the month I do it by myself.

Jeanna Dennis 
C.F.Hard Elementary 
Bessemer, AL 

Currently, the library is open to anyone who wishes to visit during lunch or recess. If there is a class in here during recess, as recess times are different for grade levels, we usually ask the visitor to come at another time. During inclement weather we rarely get visitors, as we are an open campus (separate buildings, not enclosed). (This is California, after all.)

Here is our current concern: we have a few students that should not be on the playground due to physical restrictions. (One has a severe heart condition and should not be running or doing anything strenuous.) So the solution was - send him to the library. There is nothing for him to do in the library but look at books or 'play' on the computers in the lab, which they don't always like to do. It would help to hear what other people do ...

Barbara Donofrio / Colleen Kennedy 
Santa Cruz, California

Students who have a need come to the library. Others wait in the auditorium or lunchroom, and are supervised by playground personnel.

[school and location unknown]

[During recesses and lunchtimes the ]Library closes. As an employee paid on a teacher contract, I am entitled to a full 55 minute lunch period, just like the classroom teachers. We don't have a mid-morning/mid afternoon recess, just lunch time... kids eat in 20 minute shifts, then watch movies/do activities for the rest of the period.

Parent volunteers and playground/lunch room aides, supervise these movies/activities. Some teachers also have lunch duty, but it is voluntary and teachers are paid for it.

Teachers/specialists (like library, art, etc) are not "on duty" - (i.e. contractually allowed to be supervising students) until the first bell.

Suzanne (Weinheimer) Ng
South Orange - Maplewood School District, NJ

WE have 650 6th through 8th graders. One librarian. About 40 teachers. But no one is "assigned" to be on duty. If Anyone sees a problem we all are wiilling to take care of it. We have no recess or open lunch time.

Cathy Mattingly

The library is always open, no locks. Our lunch hour goes from 11:30-1:15, each grade level rotates through. I frequently will be having classes during that time with a grade level that is not at lunch, reserving 30 minutes for myself somewhere in there. During recess the students are put in the pod open area or in a room suite with movable doors. One or two teachers, those who normally have recess duty, monitor the students. Each grade level has a aspace to accommodate the entire grade level. Frequently, the nonduty teachers shorten their lunch time to monitor their students at indoor recess.

Occasionally, I'll have students in during indoor recess from the uppergrade, especially if we have had several indoor recesses in a row. We, basicaly, haven't had any wet weather this year, we are in a drought.

Debra Balsam
Taylor Elementary
Arlington, VA

On very wet Vancouver Island I let everyone into the library on wet mornings. This COULD give me up to 100 students. Everyone is usually so glad to be out of the elements that they all behave. It probably helps that we also have a computer lab and I let the students play games if no one need the computers to complete their homework.

The secondary library (grades 8 -10) serves 47 students. There are 123 students in grades K - 7, who I work with. I am usually the only TEACHER to supervise the students but I usually also have about 5 parents who have brought their children to school who want to get out of the rain too. The parents don't actually help me supervise but obviously their presence helps. We have one teacher on outside duty. If there are no children outside, the duty teacher will usually come into the library, but this is a very casual arrangement.

Dorothy Cousins
Sea View Elementary Junior Secondary School (K-10),
Port Alice, B.C. CANADA


There is uniformity in the responses with regard to not making the library available to unlimited numbers of students, during adverse weather conditions, with one exception. Where additional supervision is not available, numbers are limited, except in 3 cases. In two of these, the library is completely closed. In the third case, the library has been “until further notice” closed regardless of weather. There is one response where the Teacher Librarian resigned.

Page created February 4, 2002

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