Category Archives: ETL503

The Future of School Library Collections

FROM THIS…library stack

Stair in library stock photo

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

TO THIS…tablet

Tablet computer and book – digital library stock image

Image courtesy of adamr /

The Future

It is interesting to try and predict what future library collections might be like in ten years. Personally, I don’t believe that the school library collection will be gone, but that it will have morphed into a different form. With continual changes in curriculum and technology, an astute teacher librarian should be able to maintain and organise a quality library collection that will constantly be modified to suit the current teaching and learning needs of the school’s community. There needs to be a central place in a school that digital and print resources can call home. While there is an assumption by many, that libraries will become obsolete as students can research anytime, anyplace on their computers, there still needs to be someone (the teacher librarian) who is responsible for guiding their digital research abilities and teaching students information literacy skills.

While the library collection itself will change, Juergens (2003, p.7), states that “what will not change is the need for librarians and information specialists to help consumers of information make sense of it all. As librarians, we know that our tools change, our collections change, our settings change. Our basic purposes do not change. They are the same today as they were 100 years ago.”

The purpose of a library is to provide resources, be it digital or print to support the student learning. However, the nature of the collection will need to change in order to cater for a 21st century education. The innovations that have caused the current changes should be no more complex for us than learning how to move from an index card system, to microfiche, to computers. Libraries revolve around technology because information resourcing is our job. Today, information involves technology and this requires teacher librarians to be a combination of reference librarian, web specialist and technician within the school (Lawton, & Scott, 2005, p. 30).

The digital collection is becoming a major player in the collection, but as there is so much information available, it is important to have the teacher librarian manage these resource and to make it easier for both teachers and students to access 24/7. The creation of library pathfinders which classroom teachers simply do not have the time to manage, that support a curriculum-based unit of work will increasingly become one role of the teacher librarian. Even an aging rock legend Keith Richards understands the need for libraries, “when you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equalizer” (Schuessler, 2013).

Factors that will determine the future of school library collections include:

1)    Library Budgets – This is a crucial factor in determining the future of the collection. A budget is more likely to be approved if the teacher librarian is able to effectively evaluate the current collection, assess future needs, and submit a budget that can demonstrate how the previous year’s spending has improved student learning.

2)    Advances in information technology – It is vital that the teacher librarian continues professional development in order to keep abreast of transformations in information technology, as this will affect future funding requirements and changes in both print and digital resources.

3)    Vision of the principal – Ensuring the school has a current technology program that is effectively resourced and taught is a vision most principals hold. By demonstrating these skills in the library, the teacher librarian can become a valuable team member of the principal’s school vision.

4)    Professionalism and enthusiasm of the teacher librarian – The teacher librarian needs to be well prepared for lessons and able to adapt and implement new technology. If we stop learning new ways to connect to sources of information and give in to the inclination to ‘Google it’, who else will guide the next generation through the often erroneous information available online to discover that quality resource which provides them with that ‘light bulb’ moment?

5)    Information Technology Coordinator – The ability to work in collaboration with the IT coordinator is often a driving factor in determining not only how many computers end up in a library but also how helpful s/he is in supporting and maintaining this technology.

6)    Nature and quality of the information available online – One significant role of the teacher librarian is to find and evaluate quality online information that is appropriate to student learning requirements.

7)    Recurring costs to online information.

One other factor that may affect the future of the school library collection is the perception of other staff members, parents and the wider school community. Teacher librarians will need to continually reiterate the importance of developing a balanced collection to support student learning and the implementation of the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2013).

I strongly believe that the school library collection will remain an essential component in all school communities, if the teacher librarian is adequately qualified and has a realistic budget. Westwood (2013) states that while students have access to “everything on the internet”, it takes a qualified teacher librarian to assist a student to actually find what is being researched.

Freeman (2005), makes the bold point that print media has not yet, nor is it likely to be, replaced by information technology. Young children are still primarily being taught to read through books. Children enjoy going to the library to read books, to discuss, to share, to learn collaboratively, and to research or to have some silent time. The library is a social centre and humans are a social being. There is a need.



Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, (ACARA). (2013). The Australian Curriculum v4.2. Retrieved from

Freeman, G. (2005). The Library as place: changes in learning patterns, collections, technology and use. In Council on Library and Information Resources, Library as place: rethinking roles, rethinking spaces (pp. 1-9). Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources.

Juergens, B. (2003). Ruminations about books: past, present, and future. Public Library Quarterly, 22(2), 3-9.

Lawton, F. D. & Scott, C. (2005). Integration: the glue that holds the digital library together. In A. Huthwaite (Ed.), Managing information in the digital age: The Australian technology network libraries respond (pp. 29-51). Adelaide: University of South Australia Library for Librarians of the Australian Technology Network.

Schuessler, J. (2013, May 22). Rolling Stone Gathers Library Fines. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Westwood, P. (2013, May 27). But what if I can’t find it on the Internet? The Canberra Times. Retrieved from

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Resourcing the Curriculum – A Reflection


Three key areas of learning that have occurred as a result of examining how a collection should be organised and maintained are:

1)    The value of writing and having a current Library Collection Policy;

2)    The importance of continual and regular evaluation of the library collection and

3)    The knowledge of the complex issues surrounding copyright.

Value of a Policy

With the introduction of the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2013), it is imperative that libraries are ready to support this new syllabus, particularly as the emphasis is on developing information literacy skills (Mitchell, 2011). Changes in curriculum leads to changes in resource formats and materials. The library collection needs to ensure that, “every student has equitable access to a variety of quality, relevant, accurate and current information resources”, which directly relates to the teaching and learning outcomes of the school’s curriculum (ALIA/ASLA, 2001, p.25). The most effective approach to resourcing a balanced collection is to implement a current Collection Policy that has been written in collaboration with staff and developed within the framework of the broader school policy (ASLA/ALIA, 2001). The policy creates the foundation for a systematic approach to selection, acquisition organisation, maintenance and funding of a quality educational collection.

Having written many policies in the past and witnessed them being placed on a shelf to gather dust, it has been refreshing to write one that is a practical document. Examining the essential components of a library – purposes, goals, nature of the collection, types of resources, funding, selection criteria, acquisition, weeding criteria and evaluation has packaged together the cyclical nature of working in a library. It has also highlighted the significance of knowing the context of the learning community and creating a policy based on the individual needs of the school and not from a generic library policy (Hughes-Hassall & Mancall, 2005). As I alone have composed this hypothetical policy, it will be necessary to rewrite sections (and add a procedural element) in collaboration with staff members, when it becomes a working document in a school setting (Department of Children’s Services, 2004).


Research indicates that the quality of a library collection has a positive impact on student learning where there is a high use of library resources (ALIA Schools and Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians, 2007). Evaluation is critical in examining the role and nature of the school’s library collection by assessing the quality and quantity of information resources in contributing to student learning. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the library collection is also valuable to formulating future plans and budgets (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005). The capacity to provide statistical data, which demonstrates a need in the collection, is more likely to be approved by the principal and School Board (Bishop, 2007). Equally important is the facility to provide data in a concise, easy-to-read format, (such as a spreadsheet) to validate how the judicious spending of funds supported the teaching and learning needs of the school (Hart, 2003).

Part of evaluating the collection is an annual stocktake and regular weeding (Hill, 2012; Lowe 2001). Outdated resources will clutter shelves and websites that no longer work frustrate. It is important to remember both print and digital resources. As Larson (2012), states, “it is better to lack enough information on a topic than to have erroneous information” (p.34). Prior to this course, it was exasperating as a teacher to have the library closed at the end of each year to undergo stocktake. However, the value of this process, including its time-consuming nature, is now clearly understood.


Copyright legislation is an enormous issue that is poorly understood in most schools. The most commonly held misconception in the school context is that if there is no copyright symbol and it is available in the public domain (such as on the Internet), the work is copyright free. However, in Australia, no formal registration is required as there is an assumption by the copyright legislation that all work is copyrighted (National Copyright Unit, n.d.). Learning about statutory and voluntary licence schemes, creative commons and how to attribute work will be of immense value in educating teachers and students in the future.


Reading extensively on and having to write a library collection policy, has been invaluable in teaching about the cyclical role and nature of the library collection in meeting the informational, educational and recreational needs of a learning community. Being able to start in a school with a working document and knowing the theory behind evaluating a collection will be extremely beneficial in my future role as teacher librarian.


ALIA/ASLA. (2001). Learning for the future: Developing information services in schools (2nd ed.). Carlton South, Victoria: Curriculum Corporation.

ALIA Schools and Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians. A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resource centres. Retrieved from

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). The Australian Curriculum v4.2. Retrieved from

Bishop, K. (2007). Evaluation of the collection. In The collection program in schools: Concepts, practices and information sources (4th ed.) (pp. 141-159). Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Department of Children’s Services, Government of South Australia. (2004). Choosing and using teaching and learning materials: Guidelines for preschools and schools. Retrieved from

Hart, A. (2003). Collection analysis: Powerful ways to collect, analyse and present your data. In C. Andronik (Ed.), School library management (5th ed.) (pp. 88-91). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth.

Hill, R. (2012). All aboard!: Implementing common core offers school librarians an opportunity to take the lead. School Library Journal 58(4), 26-30.

Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J. (2005). Collection management for youth: Responding to the needs of learners. Chicago: American Library Association.

Larson, J. (2012). CREW: A weeding manual for modern libraries. Retrieved from Texas State Library and Archives Commission website:

Lowe, K. (2001). Resource alignment: providing curriculum support in the school library media center. Knowledge Quest, 30(2), 27-32.

Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing 21st century online Australian curriculum: The role of school libraries. FYI, Autumn 10-15.

National Copyright Unit. (n.d.). Smartcopying: The official guide to copyright issues for Australian Schools and TAFE. Retrieved from

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End of Unit Teacher Survey

In order to provide the best possible service and to assist with gaining a greater understanding of the usefulness of the current resources, would you please take the time to complete this survey.

Name of unit _______________________________ Stage ______

1.            Were you generally happy with the quantity of suitable resources for the unit?

Yes      No       (Please circle)



2.            Please indicate the number of print resources that you had available for your class (______)

Number of students in the class (_____)

3.           Were you happy with the quality of the content found within the print resources?

Yes      No       (Please circle)



4.           Were you happy with the quality of the content found within the digital resources?

Yes      No       (Please circle)



5.            Please indicate any resource that was not:



Appealing to this age group


Easy for students to use, understand and access


6. Were there enough Teacher Resources for yourself?

Yes      No       (Please circle)



7. Were you happy with the variety of formats (print and digital) available?

Yes      No       (Please circle)



8. Are you aware of any other materials (print or digital) that would be useful for this topic?

Yes      No       (Please circle)



Adapted from Wattawa Heights Library Collection Management Policy. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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Handling Library Complaints

Module 6 – Collection Management Policy

Mobile Phone With Flying Books

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Module 6.4 Forum:-

What strategies can you identify, or find in school library management texts, that could assist in dealing with a complaint from a community member about a resource in a school library collection. How common is this issue in school libraries?

Please post your thoughts on the Module 6.4 Forum.

At an independent Christian K-12 school there was a complaint made by a parent concerning the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. The mother was horrified to read with her Kindergarten boy about different kinds of poos and detailed descriptions of the colour and texture. Interestingly, the American Library Association has received more complaints about these novels than any other book in 2012 (

Action by the school
The Learning Resource Manager (LRM) who runs the library but is neither teacher nor librarian qualified, immediately withdrew the entire series of books, much to the disappointment of the mostly Year 2 and Year 3 boys who LOVE to read them. The school does not have a Collection Management Policy. It has an Acceptable Content Policy that outlines the nature of acceptable and controversial material. Controversial material is any content “to which parents could reasonably object”. There is no policy or procedure for a parent who wishes to make a complaint about content. There is a Complaints and Grievances Policy but this is about a person.

The LRM referred the complaint to the Directors of Learning. The books remained hidden in a cupboard for 3 months, as no-one had neither the time nor the inclination to deal with the issue. Eventually, the Directors of Learning flicked through each book in the series allowing some of the ones that “appeared to be okay” back onto the shelf for circulation. The offending books remain hidden in the cupboard!

What should have happened?
1) The school should have in place a current Collection Management Policy that has a section outlining what steps will be taken should material be challenged.
2) These steps should include –
• Asking the complainant to fill out a written complaint form
• Formulating a reconsideration committee (members to already be nominated in the policy) to examine the material in question, to decide if the complaint is warranted and to decide what should happen with the material in question
• Contacting the complainant (usually by the principal) to discuss the findings of the reconsideration committee and trying to resolve informally the issue
• Advising the complainant about the next step in the procedure if the issue is not resolved informally with the principal.
“The procedure for handling complaints should describe every step, from the initial response to the complaint through the highest appeal” (Scales, 2009, p. 130).

Scales’ (2009) book, Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library, has detailed case studies that discuss how issues have been resolved concerning controversial material in school libraries. The case studies make for an interesting read because it consolidates theory into practice. It is American but it draws together what schools are allowed to do legally, how it involves a person’s right to freedom of information and ensuring each school follows a set procedure for addressing complaints.
“In determining what materials are acceptable, the Library’s final guide is the relevant law of Australia. If materials have not incurred penalties under Australian law, such materials cannot be excluded from the Library to satisfy individual or sectional interest” (The University of Melbourne, 2012).

Scales, P. (2009). Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library: Scenarios From the Front Lines. Chicago: American Library Association.

Also available as an ebook from:

The University of Melbourne. (2012). University Library: Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Policy. Retrieved from:

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Conscientious Objector

This is the 2.4 Forum Task:

Select a curriculum topic of interest.

Select one of the online communities or resource sharing services listed in Section 2.4 of Module 2, and spend some time searching for tags, hashtags, lists or communities of relevance to your topic.

Share a link to a relevant online resource with others in that community, and tell us about it in this forum.

This is my response:

I read this task and inwardly groaned. I understand that for some people, online forums and professional networks are important formats for finding information and discussing contemporary issues. But it’s just not my go. I also understand the professional benefits in theory, but prefer to link up with local schools, read journal articles or discuss with my peers educational issues. I have tried facebook and twitter, but just don’t enjoy the “noise” that goes along with it. There are so many comments to read and keep up with that I find it tedious. I love going on to forums and reading selected comments, but am a reluctant contributor (even to our Uni ones!). I have a blog only because it is a requirement of this course, but I don’t enjoy posting any of my comments for the whole world to be able to see – not that anyone outside of our course is interested…maybe I should post these comments on my blog and see what happens!

I also dislike having to join-up, create a logon name and think of a password. (I have a whole notepad full of logons and passwords, which I’m sure everyone else has too.) Then all these other emails start coming in that I don’t want. Delete. Delete. Delete.

I have looked at both delicious and diigo and LOVE how I can bookmark websites that I’ve found. I created an account with both, but prefer diigo, which I use regularly.

I know that Pru and Roy are probably going to be horrified by my comments, but unless I HAVE to do this activity, I’m going to choose to be a conscientious objector! It’s also interesting to see that other students have bypassed this Forum and completed 2.5 and 2.6, but not this one…

Here goes! I’m closing my eyes as I press the post button…


PS. Am more than happy to have my views critiqued, but please be respectful.

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The Tension Between Fiction and Non-fiction Texts

images book

It has been interesting to read about the requirements of the US Common Core curriculum, which stipulates that 50% of the reading undertaken by a Year 4 student should be non-fiction and 50% fiction. By the time American students are in Year 12, 70% of their reading will constitute non-fiction titles (Mosle, 2012). In the past there has been a natural leaning in primary schools to start children new to reading on fiction texts. This prevalence of mostly exposing children to one type of genre has in my opinion been hard on them once they hit secondary school. The majority of subjects and the content therein, is primarily non-fiction.

Therefore I agree that there needs to be more focus on non-fiction texts during the primary years so that students are more familiar with this type of genre once they are in secondary school. On a personal note, I have noticed that my son, who prefers non-fiction texts, also enjoys undertaking research on the Web and has become adept at finding quality information sources. My daughter, who prefers fiction and finds non-fiction “boring”, uses the Web more for entertainment. This could also be a gender issue?

My children’s school use the Benchmark Reading system to level and group children in reading. It’s curious to note that the upgraded Benchmark Reading system now requires children to “pass” a fiction AND non-fiction text before moving on to the next level. Previously, it was mostly fiction texts with the occasional non-fiction texts (which children would often find more difficult to “pass”).

Our library is a reflection of this trend. The picture book and Junior fiction sections are reasonably well stocked. However, the Junior non-fiction section is sadly lacking and this is not the result of children wanting to use digital formats only. It is a section that gets eagerly picked over and students are left wanting more.

Mosle, S. (2012, November 22). What Should Children Read? [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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Library Curating

This incredibly busy and visually stimulating website uses the LibGuides curating tool to showcase a myriad of resources both print and digital that are available for teachers and students.

It contains everything from links to resources on particular themes, Book Week activities, library information research skills, library lessons, book reviews, book recommendations, author websites, events at the school and staff resource links, just to mention a few.
While it was visually appealing, the tab bar at the top of the page took some time to read through before finding a particular resource. However, once that resource was found, the actual link opens quickly to reveal videos, picture links and further information. This would be a model that I would like to use for our school library, but on a more basic level.

Jackson, D., King, L., & Press, R. (n.d.). Australian International School Library: Junior School [Website]. Retrieved from


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