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 http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/policies-procedures-manual.pdf
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). The Australian Curriculum v4.2. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au
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 http://www.decd.sa.gov.au/policy/files/links/choose_use_booklet_FA.pdf
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: https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/ld/pubs/crew/crewmethod12.pdf
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 http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/go