ETL503 – Part C: Reflection

This assignment and unit has been essential for me to understand the importance of managing, developing and refining the school collection, for my specific school community. The idea of a ‘learner-centred’ collection (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005) has been cemented, a concept which I had up till now not even considered. This lack of knowledge has definitely contributed to me struggling with collection development in my current role. As stated in the Professional Standards For Teacher Librarians (Australian Library and Information Association, 2004) an effective teacher librarian steers the learning community towards rich resources chosen for their specific requirements and ensures that they are implemented, managed and utilised with optimum results. I have begun to hone my skills of analysis to enable me to achieve this.

The need for the collection to be consistently reviewed and evaluated to reflect the needs of the school community requires a plan and collaboration. In terms of a practical system, the CREW guidelines (Larson, 2012) are an invaluable new revelation to me and I plan to implement a program based on this in my library. Making collection development a shared process where stakeholders’ contributions are welcomed is imperative, and this includes de-selection decisions also (National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools, 2012) to be truly inclusive. During this unit I have informed my Principal of the library policy regarding de-selection and consulted with teaching staff more closely. This has resulted in an improved relationship with staff and a start to a more efficient and targeted weeding process.

The role of the teacher librarian and expertise necessary to be effective just keeps becoming more complex as I learn more in this course. Particularly in this unit I have been made aware of how important it is to be an expert in curriculum, learning styles, format preferences and reading levels, and be at the cutting edge of new technologies. Resourcing the curriculum for learning and developing information literacy skills is the key aspect of the teacher librarian role. As the curriculum changes and technology continues to influence preferences of information formats, learning styles and communication methods, the teacher librarian must adapt to serve those needs. This includes the need to balance collections with a proportion of digital resources, despite the associated implications of licencing, copyright and management concerns.

Assignment one confirmed to me the time consuming nature and complexity of the selection process. In my earlier blog post, I did note that many hours were taken to carefully select and evaluate resources based on my newly created Selection Criteria. As stated in the ALIA Statement On Free Access To Information (Australian Library and Information Association, 2015) and the School Library Bill of Rights (Australian School Library Association, 2014) the teacher librarian has a duty to provide balanced and free access to all forms of information. Adhering to selection criteria combats censorship issues, particularly self-censorship and preferences for particular formats and ensures resources are evaluated on their own merits and in the context of the collection as a whole (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005; Johnson, 2009; Kennedy, 2006).

The usefulness of the selection criteria to inform de-selection also can not be understated, and the literature surrounding the negative nature of keeping out-dated and irrelevant resources (Beilharz, 2007; Larson, 2012) has given me confidence to attack my shelves with more authority. The notions that the best items in the collection are the ones being used, and that a good library is not necessarily the largest one, are my two take away messages regarding weeding.

This course has immediately impacted my practice in a positive way. I am more confident that I will be able to implement procedures to improve the current collection and respond to the needs of my school.

References

Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/standards-professional-excellence-teacher-librarians

Australian Library and Information Association. (2015). Statement on free access to information. Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/statement-free-access-information

Australian School Library Association. (2014). Policy statement – School library bill of rights. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/bill-of-rights.aspx

Beilharz, R. (2007). Secret library business – part 2. Connections, (63), 10–12. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/conn_page.html

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

Johnson, P. (2009). Developing collections. In Fundamentals of collection development and management (2nd ed, pp. 103–108). Chicago: American Library Association.

Kennedy, J. (2006). Collection management: a concise introduction (Rev. ed). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Larson, J. (2012). CREW: A weeding manual for modern libraries. Austen, TX: Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Retrieved from https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/ld/pubs/crew/crewmethod12.pdf

National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. (2012). Weeding guide. Retrieved from http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/school-libraries/building-and-managing-collection/weeding-guide

 

Priorities & Issues: Resourcing

This assignment has reinforced for me how integral the role of resourcing the curriculum is for the teacher librarian, and how methodical and meticulous one must be to do this job well. As stated in the ALIA professional standards (2004) an effective teacher librarian steers the learning community towards rich resources chosen for their specific requirements and ensures that they are implemented, managed and utilised with optimum results.

When selecting and acquiring materials the premise that the needs of teachers and students drive the decision making process is of utmost importance. This assignment has cemented for me the importance of catering for specific needs and when necessary altering selection criteria or other priorities to fulfill a ‘just in time, not just in case’ approach (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005, p. 43). Again, this task has highlighted the essential skill of collaboration, to effectively work with all stakeholders to assess, select and evaluate to ensure resources meet the needs of all.

Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005, p.36) argue that the teacher librarian must have a comprehensive understanding of the curriculum, the students and their specific needs and the status of current library resources in order to create a learner-centered collection. This assignment has resulted in me starting to reconsider the context for my own library, how well I know the existing collection, and how I might better gather this data from staff and students to accurately assess their learning needs.

The process of resourcing my chosen unit of work, made it very clear the importance of adhering to selection criteria to objectively assess the relevance and worth of resources, on their own merits and then in context of the whole collection (Johnson, 2009, p.112), to combat censorship and personal bias. This is applicable also for format selection in order to effectively respond to the need of a balanced collection to cater for varied learning styles.

As summarised in SCIS Connections (Kennedy, 2014), the School Library Collections Survey 2013 clearly showed one of the main concerns for school libraries is the collection being underused by both students and teachers. Promotion of available resources, both in print and digital format, needs to be relentless in order to penetrate the consciousness of the school community.

Taking advantage of the plethora of free websites available is a cost friendly way to add e-resources to the collection and ensures an engaging and contemporary collection. However, these resources also require a rigorous evaluation, curation, and promotion, in order for them to be appropriate and accessed easily. Thought must be given to how all formats will be stored, shelved, displayed and accessed in order to be beneficial. This has provoked me to ensure all e-resources have SCIS records and added to the catalogue in my own library for easier discovery, and a more rigorous approach to using our school LMS to promote the collection.

The selection and acquisition process must take into consideration the collection as a whole in terms of budget constraints, physical space and technology infrastructure limitations, and strive to maintain a balance of resources available. How best to acquire resources, through subscriptions, bundles, patron requests etc. and which suppliers are best in terms of efficiency and cost, needs consideration.

My understanding that it is the responsibility of the teacher librarian to demonstrate and provide accountability has increased. Money spent on the collection must be relevant and cost-effective. Debowski (2001) argues that a careful needs analysis of the collection and learners can aid budget management, and collection building, by pinpointing where money should be spent. This year in the interest of transparency I will endeavor to prepare an annual report, as advocated by McKenzie (2009) to maintain transparency of where money has been spent.

Finally, time management is an aspect to the resourcing process that has been a revelation to me while completing this assignment. The amount of time needed to accurately understand the curriculum, units of work, skills needed and teacher and students’ needs far exceeded my expectations. Further, a considerable amount of time was needed to consider possible resources, apply selection criteria and make note of them. I am aware that in the real world collaboration, the acquisition process and then finally promoting resources would require even more time! Making and managing time is a skill I need to keep working on.

REFERENCES

Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/standards-professional-excellence-teacher-librarians

Debowski, S. (2001). Collection program funding management. In Dillon, K., Henri, J., & McGregor, J. (Eds.), Providing more with less: Collection management for school libraries (2nd ed., pp. 299–326). Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

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

Johnson, P. (2009). Developing collections. In Fundamentals of collection development and management (2nd ed, pp. 103–108). Chicago: American Library Association.

Kennedy, C. (2014). School library collections survey 2013. SCIS Connections, (88). Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_88_2014/articles/school_library_collections_survey_2013.html

Mckenzie, D. (2009, June 27). Library grits: Importance of creating an annual report [Blog]. Retrieved from http://librarygrits.blogspot.com.au/2009/06/importance-of-creating-annual-report.html