ETL503 Final reflections
I’ve been extremely fortunate over the past 2.5 years to have the opportunity to be working in a NSWDEC high school library, which was in dire need of some love and attention, particularly in relation to the much neglected collection. I almost wish I had completed this subject earlier in my Masters program, so that I could have benefited from the wisdom I’ve discovered from ETL503 during the process of making difficult decisions about the library collection!
I apprecieated the opportunity to develop my skills around crafting a collection to meet specific curriculum requirements in the first assignment (Rodgers, 2016). This final assignment provided the opportunity to engage in the meaningful and relevant process of proposing a Collection Development Policy. This has had significant impacts on my professional practice, both in regards to the policies we are developing to support the future direction of the library, and on the shape and scope of our library collection.
As my understanding of Resource Management has developed throughout this subject, I have been struck by how drastic a state our library collection was in before I started working there. I have also been impressed by how well many of the decisions my library assistant and I have made over the past years, have fit within the suggestions for best practice for a library collection. One of our main goals when we first began culling and renewing the collection was to decrease the amount of material on each shelf, as they were almost 100% filled. After our extensive process of resource evaluation and rejuvenation, our shelving is now at approximately 75-80% capacity, containing resources which are in excellent condition, and are relevant and engaging.
It is from this perspective that I approached this subject – as someone who had recently gone through a major collection overhaul, and was now looking for ways to ensure that the person who follows me will inherit a collection in much better shape, and with much more relevance to the school community than the one that fell in my lap. Establishing a clear set of selection criteria, then, has been of enormous benefit to both our library, and my professional practice. Ditto to the impact of our new Collection Development Policy. I have to agree with the Australian Library and Information Association Schools’ assertion that such a policy is essential, as it explains the reason such a collection exists within schools (ALIA, 2007). Given the fractured history of the library at my school, it is gratifying to now have documentation with clearly highlights the benefits of a well-resourced library for our school community.
I have also come to realize how important the multiple levels of analysis in regards to collection management are, as outlined by Hughes-Hassell (2005). Having an in-depth knowledge of my resources, a clear understanding of my students, strong collaborative partnerships with other teaching staff, and a sound understanding of the teaching and learning programs of the school, allows me to have a strong sense of purpose as I continue to build a library that meets the multiple varied needs of our school community.
I love books. I doubt this is an uncommon feature for any Teacher Librarian. But, as someone with a passion for books and the stories they provide, I have always found disposing of books from my own collection an extremely difficult task. This, then, has been one of my main challenges with the collection development process, and one of the key takeaway messages for me – understanding that in the collection development process, what you remove is as significant as what you add (Olin, 2012).
Finally, in recent weeks the importance of having a responsive and flexible collection has been driven home to me. Having spent significant time and energy establishing a Senior Study collection, in consultation with staff and students, and ensuring that all current Stage 6 courses are sufficiently resourced for our seniors, the recent announcement of new HSC syllabuses reminded me that our work is never done! Tomorrow, next month, next year … whilst many changes in education and school libraries may be predictable, and able to be planned for through analysis of such work as the Horizon Report, there are a great many potentialities that are out of our control. It is because of this uncertainty that it’s so important for the Teacher Librarian to be responsive to the ever-changing climate of their school community, and plan accordingly to ensure that the Library remains the beating heart of the school.
ALIA Schools, and Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians, (2007). A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resource centres. 1st ed. [ebook] Melbourne: ALIA Schools and VCTL. Available at: https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/documents/events/policies.procedures.pdf
Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J. (2005). Collection management for youth : responding to the needs of learners. Chicago : American Library Association
Olin, J. (2012). Letters to a young librarian: weeding is where it’s at: deacquisitioning in a small, academic library. Available at: http://letterstoayounglibrarian.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/weeding-is-where-its-at.html
NMC (2015). Horizon Report: Library Edition. Available at: http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-library-edition/
Rodgers, T (2016). Resourcing the curriculum: priorities and issues. Available at: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/biggerontheinside/2016/04/26/resourcing-the-curriculum-priorities-and-issues/