Frequently Asked Questions

Using the service

Who can use your library service?

A. To borrow books and resources, schools pay a subscription. If you’re not sure whether this is the case, get in touch and ask us if your school or organisation has a subscription! If they do, then you can either visit us or use a request form to borrow resources.

If you wish to make use of our advisory services or register for an event, contact us by phone or email. Schools do not need to have a subscription in order to benefit from our advisory services. Phone conversations are free, and initial school visits to non-subscribers are £70 (waived if we then carry out work on your library)

What sort of organisations can subscribe to your service?

A. We work with a wide range of schools and educational settings and organisations, including:

  • Primary schools
  • Secondary schools and 6th forms
  • Nursery/ early years settings
  • Special schools
  • Private schools
  • PRUs
  • Homeschooling organisations
  • Educational consultants and support for learning services
My school/ setting isn't within Tower Hamlets. Can I use your service?

A. Yes!

We serve any  borough/ county in London and the South East not already served by another schools library service.

Can I visit your library if I don't have a subscription?

A. You’re very welcome to visit our library and browse our collection, or talk to our staff about the service or your school library

How do I get a library card?

A. We don’t give out physical cards any more. If your school has a subscription with us then we’ll be able to create an account for you. After this, you just need to present proof of ID in order to borrow from us. If the resources are being delivered to your school then you don’t need to present ID.

What happens if something on loan is lost or damaged?

A. We ask that borrowers take good care of our resources so that as many people as possible can benefit from them, but we understand that resources can get damaged or go missing while in schools. We don’t charge late fees except for in-demand items such as costumes and artefacts collections. We will invoice schools for 2 thirds of the value of all items that are not returned after two years.

What do I do if I change school?

A. Once you leave a school, your ticket at that school will be closed. Any outstanding resources will remain on that ticket. If your new school subscribes to our service then you’ll be provided with a new ticket, or they can contact us for subscription details.

Any resources on loan to you when you leave a school cannot be transferred to a new ticket and they should be returned to us as soon as possible.

Can our whole school visit the library?

A. We can accomodate large groups of teachers. Please let us know in advance so that you don’t clash with another group or event, though! If you wish to bring groups of children, please also contact us in advance.


Our resources

Are children allowed to handle the artefacts and cosumes that you lend?

A. Absolutely, but we request that teachers make individual assessments for our artefacts based on their knowledge of the children in their class and the resources in question!

As a general rule, we would only advise supervised handling of our artefacts. Story props (e.g non-historical soft toys) are fine for general use. However historical artefacts/ artefacts from around the world (including toys) should not be used for unsupervised play as they are fragile, not covered by modern safety regulations, and are not easily replacable.

Can we use props and costumes in a school play?

A. Yes. We only ask that when borrowing large numbers of items that they are all returned complete to the library. Some of our historical costumes have parts that are stitched together (e.g. shirts, waistcoats and jackets). This is to minimise losses of costume parts. Please do not try to un-stitch these items!

When requesting costumes for a play, please give us an idea of the number of costumes required and (most importantly) the year group of the children wearing them so that we can select the best possible sizes.

We suggest that teachers wanting costumes for a play visit the library in person to get a proper look at the collection (but we cannot provide facilities to try on costumes in the library!).


Deliveries and Collections

When should I expect delivery of my resources?

If you select your resources yourself at the library then we will guarantee delivery within 5 working days.
If you send in (by fax or online) a request form, resources will be delivered within 7 working days of receipt of your request OR the first day of term.
Deliveries may be delayed if you still have a lot of resources on your ticket from previous terms. We will contact you if this is the case and arrange a collection.
You can request resources at any time, although in the two weeks before the end of each term we only make collections

You've delivered my colleagues' resources but not mine.

A. We compile and deliver requests in the order that they are recieved to keep within the time limit. Your colleagues’ requests may have been sent earlier. However if the 7 day limit has been reached, please contact us as soon as possible.

Can you pick up my old resources and deliver the new ones at the same time?

A. If there is sufficient space on your ticket to issue new items, then yes. Otherwise we will need to check off all of your old resources here at the library before we can compile your new request. We will always try to contact teachers by email or phone if their ticket is full and they have requested new items.

My delivery is due but my resources have not arrived. What shall I do?

A. Call us as soon as possible. Also check that an email has not already been sent to you and that the school office has not been contacted. In the case of any problems with your request, we will attempt to contact you or your school.

Help! I need something urgently!

You can call us to check when our driver is in – we are usually able to squeeze in urgent deliveries.
The quickest way to get an item urgently is for you to visit us and we will be happy to help you locate what you need or suggest alternatives
The library is open 10am to 6pm Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm on Fridays and there is free parking available
We can fast-track orders for OFSTED-related requests

Can I order over the phone?

For small numbers of items, we may be able to quickly get these ready for you to collect on the same day. Depending on the number of items required and time/ staff available, we reserve the right to ask that teachers visit to choose items themselves or complete a request form.

For topic requests, you will need to complete a request form which will go into the queue to be processed. We cannot accept topic requests phoned in or written in the body of an email as these do not provide us with all of the required information.

When can you collect my resources?

If you want us to collect your resources at times other than at the end of term, ring us to arrange a collection.
We collect from every school at the end of term, and let each school know which day our driver will be calling.
In the week following a school holiday we prioritise deliveries, but if we are delivering to your school, we can collect as well.

Will you automatically collect my resources at half term?

No. All of our resources are loaned for a term.  If you exchange your resources at half term, we cannot guarantee availability of resources as other teachers may already have them for the whole term
If you wish to swap items at half term, contact us to arrange a collection – we aim to collect within five working days

I'm from the University of Cumbria. Can you deliver my resources?

If you are a student on placement in a subscribing school, our driver can deliver and collect items in reasonable quantity
If you are a lecturer you can submit a request and we will deliver all resources to the university building

Is there a limit on the number of items you can deliver or collect?

There is no upper limit on number, but we cannot send our driver for less than 25 books (or one box / crate)

Where will my resources be dropped off/ picked up from in the school?

Resources are delivered to the school reception or other area designated by the school (picking up and dropping off)
The school administrator / receptionist is asked to sign for delivery
Please note that our driver will not have time visit classrooms or the school library to collect / deliver items

I'm sure I returned an item to you, but it still appears on my records

Please ring us to enquire – we will check our shelves and the records and get back to you.

If we find a multi-part item (such as a bookset, picture pack, story sack or artefacts box) has been returned with a part missing, we will email or write to you to let you know. The item will remain on your ticket while you look for the missing part(s).

Will you provide a printed receipt?

Every delivery comes with a printout of every item on loan to you. This will include any items from previous loans. The list also indicates due dates for each item.

I accidentally returned books to you that were not yours!

A. We get lots of schools’ own books and public library books sent back to us at the end of each term. Firstly, please ensure that you’re only sending Schools Library Services books to us when packing crate (e.g books with our zebra spine labels). We cannot be held responsible for the loss of any items sent to us in error, especially if books are old, damaged, or not marked with a school ownership stamp.

We do our best to send public library books back to a central library but we cannot be held responsible for any fines.

If you realise you’ve sent anything to us that you shouldn’t have, please phone us ASAP. We’ll look out for it, but you’ll probably need to visit us and collect it in person!

I accidentally sent school documents / childrens' work to you in your crates!

A. We will always attempt to contact teachers who send important/ confidential school paperwork to us. We have very limited time and storage space, and so other paperwork, children’s work, bits of displays, etc may be recycled.

If you realise you’ve sent anything to us that you shouldn’t have, please phone us ASAP. We’ll look out for it, but you’ll probably need to visit us and collect it in person!


Opening Times

Opening times

Term time Monday – Thursday: 9am to 5pm

Fridays and holidays: 9am to 4:30pm

Christmas holiday

23rd December to 1st January : CLOSED