From observing school libraries in action, it appears that it is very common for collection practices to occur which may have originally been a response to particular circumstances, or convenient at the time, or which suited a particular person’s style, and now have become “the way things are done”. As an observer, it is easy to see inefficient practices occurring which may never be questioned (Why have a CM policy, 2010).
Having a written collection policy as well as procedures outlined in writing means that someone has, at least once, looked critically at the policy and the practices of that particular library, and tried to see the big picture. Unpacking this sentence reveals many important elements which I have considered during this assignment:
“someone” – the person in charge of the library, hopefully a qualified teacher librarian, in collaboration with other stakeholders
“at least once” – once the policy is written, is it ever revised to maintain relevance or does it become a dust-gatherer?
“looked critically” – rather than just described uncritically
“that particular library” – not a generic library, a library with a unique group of users which demands its own policy, not a policy copied from another school
“the big picture” – how the library complements the school and its aims
The one element that came through in every reading for this assignment was the emphasis on the collection meeting the needs of the users. (Bishop, 2007; Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005; Debowski, 2001). As someone with boundless enthusiasm for books and resources and all their delightful intrinsic value, I found useful the constant reminder that selection must focus on the users, not occur at the whim of the selector.
The other major learning curve was considering the role of electronic resources in the collection. The school library I visit has yet to embrace this new model, aside from housing computers for students to use, and the change must occur there first in the head of the teacher librarian before it will take any real form.
Doug Johnson (2010) does a fine job of highlighting the value of technologies which our students widely use and which we must provide as part of their learning environment. I find it interesting and daunting that, as this is such a new area, we are obliged to make up rules and guidelines as we go along. No one actually knows what works best and perhaps this demand for courage to try and fail and flexibility of thinking is what is holding so many teacher librarians back. I am inspired by those who have embraced the challenge and share their work on blogs and listservs. I think this course is equipping me to be one of the triers.
Completing this assignment has given me a much greater appreciation for policy as a vision, as an active document rather than a dull dust-gatherer. I look forward to bringing this enthusiasm and knowledge into my future role as teacher librarian.
Bishop, K. (2007). Community analysis and needs assessment. In The collection program in schools : concepts, practices and information sources (4th ed.) (pp. 19-24). Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited.
Debowski, S. (2001). Collection program funding management. In K. Dillon, J. Henri & J. McGregor (Eds.), Providing more with less: collection management for school libraries (2nd ed.) (pp. 299-326). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J. C. (2005) Collection Management for Youth : Responding to the Needs of Learners. ALA Editions. Retrieved from CSU library.
Johnson, D. (2010). Libraries for a post-literate society. Connections, 72, 1-2. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/libraries_for_a_post- literate_society_1_2.html
Why have a CM policy? (2010). [ETL503 Module 8.] Retrieved May 9, 2011 from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL503_201130_W_D/page/232c6164-cd59-444c-80a8- 41341abf1c4f