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A School library is more than books although we have plenty of those: 15,000 books across the school from the gorgeous Art and History of Art collections to the magnificent History collection in the Sligger Library. We also offer fiction by contemporary and classic authors, ebooks, magazines, online resources and audio books. In the Petre Library we provide a space to study, to read for work, for leisure and for wellbeing. It’s a safe and peaceful space which can also be somewhere for quiet, peer-to peer collaboration or even a chess tournament. The Downside School Library is available to all members of our community be they pupils, teachers or support staff; we aim to make the School library inclusive, diverse and welcoming. The School library is about conversations, sharing ideas and opinions. Above all, it’s about reading.

Users tell us the library is ‘welcoming’, ‘overflowing’, ‘organised’, ‘comforting’, ‘calm’ and an ‘escape’. We’ll take that!

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Stephen King

Every new pupil is introduced to the library through the Book at Bedside scheme: the library team selects a book which is placed at their bedside for the day they arrive.  Book- and reading-related events are scheduled throughout the year from Bookbuzz in the Michaelmas Term, World Book Day in the Lent Term alongside a competition for the Library Prize which this year will be awarded to the Downside Book Champion. Trips to hear authors speak at literature festivals in Bath and Wells are complemented by visits to the school from authors and storytellers. Wider reading lists and posters are created for every subject taught at Downside and the library team provides support for topic work, EPQs and coursework. We also work with academic departments to produce events for 6F such as the Gothic Conference and the Languages Conference. In the Summer Term we challenge younger pupils with an event called ‘No Limits’ combining creative writing and climbing.

Our team of library prefects ensures that events are well-publicised in the boarding houses. They advocate for reading and the library and also represent their house-mates in regular dialogue with the library team. Bronze Duke of Edinburgh candidates are helping with our drive for sustainable practices. They are also producing a student-led page on our website for the first time in 2023 while they learn about the mysteries of library organisation and management.

Janet Craig, MCILIP

For 24/7 access to the library webpage for pupils and staff, click here. When you sign in, you will find reading recommendations and the latest library news including author visits, conferences, quizzes and leadership opportunities.

Useful Links

Recent Library Highlights

PETRE LIBRARY WEBSITE (access for staff & pupils)

“The National Literacy Trust found that reading for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of a child.”
NLT (2008)
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