Part A – Summary of the School Context
Dream Primary School consists of 410 students with 17 stage based classes. Dream Primary School has one stage two and one stage three Enrichment classes (gifted and talented classes) and fifteen students with identified learning disabilities across K-6. The school also has a growing number of ESL students (currently at 4). Through excellence, flexibility and a vigorous learning program the staff provide a vast array of opportunities for the students. With the support of a strong parent body and vibrant local community we envisage a future of continued growth and success. We welcome change and embrace technology hoping to pass this on to all students – in turn equipping them with the necessary skills to continue their learning journey through life. The library is located in the centre of the school and is easily accessible to all members of the school community.
The school library is an essential entity as it serves to enhance student achievement. Dream Public School delivers the Accelerated Literacy Program as its core English program. This program involves studying one text per term. Part of a teacher’s preparation of the text for a teaching sequence involves the teacher reading it carefully and analytically. That is, the teacher will select texts or passages from texts to teach students about how to read and write like successful students. The teacher will decide on writing techniques to teach and at the same time, consider what students will need to know to learn to use these techniques e.g. What ‘ground rules’ of the subject English will students need to control to read the text with comprehension and to write like this author? Prior to studying the text in its entirety, students will develop background knowledge about the themes within the text. Therefore it is essential that the library is stocked with quality resources so that the teacher’s can expose students to a wide range of information, enhance their learning, build upon their understanding and ultimately meet the needs of their students.
The school library has a class set of desktops. There are three class sets of notebooks located at the front office for access convenience. There is also ten iPads for students to use. Each classroom also has two desktops in it as well as a teacher’s computer. All classrooms have an interactive whiteboard (IWB) run by a separate central processing unit (CPU). Teachers use Quizlet (Quizlet, 2014) for language learning and the class teachers use Mathletics (3P Learning, 2014).
It is one of the school’s priorities is to introduce more digital resources and with that there are a number of issues to consider. E-Books can incur different types of costs, depending on the usage or the subscription. The amount of potential users must be known as this may affect the cost. Any license issues need to be sorted before purchase and the concern of where they will be stored and how they can be accessed needs to be sorted. This is not to say the school should not consider eBooks, they just have to be able to gauge support for them before use.
Part B – Proposal for the establishment and management of a model library collection
Resourcing the school library is a complex task. There are multiple considerations to adequately support the learning needs of a school community. This is to provide equitable access for all users and promote lifelong, independent learning habits (ILFA/UNESCO, 2006). It is therefore important to have policies and procedures in place to justify a school’s rationale for selection, acquisition and de-selection of resources if challenges occur (Hughes-Hassall & Mancall, 2005).
In selecting and acquiring resources for the library collection, it is important to understand the demographics of the community being catered for. This background knowledge will help highlight the needs of the students and the teachers.
Working collaboratively with teachers is the preferred way for developing a resource collection that is useful and enhances students learning. The Teacher Librarian is not an expert in all areas of the curriculum and by working collegially can utilise the expertise of other colleagues in the various KLAs.
Identifying under resourced areas of the curriculum is of great significance. Smaller subject areas may be overlooked because there may not be a great demand. However, is it possible that there is limited demand because there is the awareness that resources do not exist and therefore there is no reason to demand?
The selection of resources is quite time consuming. Reviewing resources can also be difficult. Therefore, in working collegially the responsibility of the general selection and review process can be of great benefit. Nevertheless, the ultimate decision of acquisition lies with the Teacher Librarian as the “ultimate arbiter” (Kennedy, 2006, p. 42).
Understanding the teaching priorities and learning agenda of the school acknowledges and ensures that the collection management policy can directly relate to these. Also understanding that the Australian Curriculum is being introduced to the school and its priorities must be reflected in the school’s library collection. The collection priorities teaching and learning agenda of the school are met by:
- Appraising the current resources of the school library and ensure that they support the requirements of the new Australian Curriculum (AC) including the cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Asia, multicultural literature from beyond Asia and sustainability (Braxton, 2013);
- Ensuring that appropriate reading resources are available for students to promote questioning and understanding of texts as promoted in Debbie Miller’s ‘Teaching with Intention’ (Miller, 2008) prescribes. This also covers meeting the recreational reading needs of members of the school community; and
- Selecting, acquiring and providing access to digital resources that the students may need as a part of the push to encourage the teaching body to embrace new technologies. This includes creating pathfinders with appropriate websites for students’ assignments, encouraging the use of the recently issued iPads and even considering the introduction of eBooks into the school community.
To engage students in the Dream Public School library there should be the opportunity for students to suggest or maybe vote for new books they want to read. This may promote ownership of the library by students. Librarians should know their library. They should know the areas of strengths in the resources and the weaknesses, knowing current resources should help the librarian know whether a new resource is needed or whether it is similar to current resources.
Nature of the collection:
There are multiple types of resources that the Dream Public School library should provide for the school and community.
(a) Non-fiction – this collection includes reference and information books as well as others. The best way to note what physical non-fiction is needed is by curriculum mapping, seeing what parts of the curriculum are well resourced and what parts are not. These can be both physical and digital resources. Recommendations from sources such as SCIS (Education Services Australia, 2013) can be used if the school pays for a subscription. One area the school needs to look into is foreign language fiction. As there are a number of students with another language background the school is not catering to these students.
(b) Fiction – this collection involves picture books, readers, comics, eBooks and novels. Discussions need to take place with teachers as to the fiction they would like available for their class. Selection can also be based upon users’ needs, recommendations from sources such as SCIS (Education Services Australia, 2013) and other professional networks, lists of literary awards, Premier’s reading Challenge books, student requests and reviews in journals such as Goodreads (Goodreads Inc. 2014), Inside a Dog (State Library of Victoria, 2014) and Magpies (Magpies Magazine, 2014). Fiction includes both the physical books as well as digital resources.
(c) Audio Formats – includes music and audio books. There may also be accompanying teacher’s notes if available.
(d) Charts – pictures, posters, maps, visual how-to guides and study prints.
(e) Games – board games, educational games, flash cards and cards.
(f) Models – scientific 3D models, experiment resources, aids for classroom teaching, dress-ups for language studies.
(g) DVDs – curriculum appropriate documentaries, entertainment shows or movies, taped television series and filmed classroom activities for both students and teachers.
(h) Online and electronic resources – can comprise of various formats including Digital resources can include internet sites, databases, Web 2.0 technologies, interactive learning technologies, Apps and eBooks.
In setting up a new school library in a K-6 environment with a class set of computers for individual use and access to ten i-pads; the library is well equipped with electronic devices to cater for 21st century learning. However, to ensure adequate use and access to digital and online resources, Dream Public School will need to:
- Making teaching and learning easier by organising the school’s digital resources;
- Have online ICT and Information Literacy lessons as part of the library’s resources for staff, students and the wider community, to develop the skills to understand how to use the computers properly;
- Ensure consistent classification, storage and retrieval systems by following the SCIS standards for cataloguing;
- Continue to respond to the historical, geographical, cultural, linguistic and educational dimensions of the local context with particular attention to the information literacy needs of the whole community; and
- Remain ready to respond to the possibilities of an unknown future where interactive digital books like the Inkling productions are made available and accessible, i-Pads become more durable, and/or other new technologies can be supported in this school environment.
An awareness of how to remain abreast of the variety of resources available to suit our school library’s particular needs is essential. The use of selection aids can be extremely helpful in this regard (Wall & Ryan, 2010). Selection aids may include bibliographic tools, reviewing journals and publishers’ catalogues. They may also use library suppliers’ promotional literature, standing orders, bookshop and warehouse visits as well as suggestions from staff, teachers, students and the community. (Kennedy, 2006)
Also, keeping abreast of reviews outlining the cost and practical uses of new resources are extremely helpful tools. Gray’s (2010) exploration of the cost and practical uses of e-books within school libraries, for example, might help a Teacher Librarian judge what an e-books might offer that is different to the physical resources already within the collection.
However, knowledge of the types of resources available is useless without a consideration of whether they are appropriate for a particular environment. Each school library community has particular contextual issues to consider such as: special learning needs and languages spoken (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005), the gender of clients (Boon, 2008) and the learning context and curriculum employed within the school. In consideration of the current Australian learning context, for example, it is imperative a teacher librarian has a thorough understanding of The National Curriculum (ACARA 2013). This document highlights the importance of building on students’ own interests, suggesting the need to build a collection that reflects these interests and supports teachers and learners in a technology driven, constructivist based learning environment (Wall & Ryan, 2010).
ALIA’s submission to the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on the resourcing needs for implementing the Australian Curriculum makes this clear. Kennedy’s definition of collection management underscores the needs and wants of “clients”. In our school community that is defined by the demands of the curriculum, assessment and reporting structures in place. The professional development needs of school staff would be included in this, as would, to a certain extent, the free independent reading of the student population. In broader terms, ALIA also notes that the library’s role in resourcing the curriculum is part of a core rationale for a liberal education to effectively prepare young people to participate and contribute to an open, pluralistic society:
“The primary function of a school library is to underpin the school’s mission statement by providing services, resources and programs that foster opportunities for lifelong learning, literacy, reading and the love of literature. The school library also offers all members of its community the opportunity to develop as informed and responsible citizens and to contribute to the Australian democracy, culture, society and economy” (ALIA, 2010).
This gives collection management in schools a fairly broad remit, which can be hard to meet in the context of competing priorities and limited budgets.
The Australian School Library Association (ASLA) has also made a statement about curriculum resourcing that implies a client and needs-focused approach to collection management in its “Statement on school library resource provision”:
Resourcing the curriculum is an ongoing process of selection and evaluation guided by policy and budget planning. Effective resourcing of the curriculum requires a collaboratively developed and agreed policy on collection development prepared as part of the school’s ongoing planning and review process.
Effective resourcing of a curriculum ensures:
- every learner has equitable access to a variety of quality, relevant, accurate and current information resources;
- adequate resources at appropriate levels for all curricula and to meet personal and recreational needs are provided;
- new ways of teaching and learning are reflected in Information and Communication Technologies and resources;
- teachers’ effectiveness is enhanced by access to recent curricular and professional development material (ASLA, 2009).
It seems to me that collection management in the context of the school library is a balancing act between the various needs of the school community and the realities of budgetary constraints. There may be issues with competing agendas, too, especially in schools working within a religious charter where the object of a free flow of information may be at odds with the school community’s definition of acceptable material. A teacher librarian would be making decisions about collection management within an implied or fully-worked-out matrix of factors to consider when selecting, acquiring, evaluating and weeding resources.
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 license schemes, creative commons and how to attribute work will be of immense value in educating teachers and students in the future.
Collection evaluation is important in school libraries as the collection must meet the needs and interests of the pupils and staff who use it. The school library staff at Dream Public School should choose the collection evaluation strategy that works best for them. I think that it is also preferable that the teacher librarian evaluates one section of the collection at a time, starting with the sections that they think need the most work. Firstly, because the job is time consuming and it would therefore make it easier to evaluate. Secondly, because then the areas that need attention, hopefully get it from the start.
There are two methods that would work well in primary school libraries in particular. One is a collection centered measure of examining the collection directly. For example, if the school was about to have a class studying a term long unit on Forces Control Movement. An examination of the library collection of books relating to this field conducted by the teacher-librarian working in conjunction with the teachers who were going to be teaching this unit found deficiencies in this area, old books and the view was taken that new books catering for lower primary students were needed as an urgent priority.
The second measure that would work well in school libraries particularly in non-fiction is collection mapping. Collection mapping or mini-mapping if you are only focusing on one area of the collection is when you gather information on the number of books in a collection; the number of books per capita (per head of population for pupils) and the average age of the books. It would work well as a first step in conjunction with examining the collection to determine whether the library has enough books in one particular area of the curriculum. It couldn’t be used as a standalone procedure, but could work well in conjunction with other procedures to ensure that the library collection meets the needs of its users.
Having a clear collections development policy containing concise selections criteria would hopefully mean that objectionable material does not make it to the library shelves. However, this is not always the case and having an active and vocal parent body means that staff may have to deal with complaints. Also having a variety of cultures means that there are any number of reasons a piece of material may be found objectionable. A good resource here would be Barbara Braxton’s Sample Collection Policy (Braxton, 2014).
This document recommends that we have the right to provide opportunities and resources which reflect a wide variety of perspectives. Some of these items may contain information that is offensive to a member of the school community. Objections to these materials are a democratic right and should be treated as legitimate concerns, but they must understand that a parent cannot determine suitability for other students. In this case, a parent may write a letter/email voicing their concern and the reason, a review of the item will be carried out by the Teacher Librarian and another member of staff. An independent person may be asked to give their opinion. The three members will consult and decide the appropriate course of action and the complainant will be informed of the decision. The complainant may see the selection criteria if they are not satisfied and have the right to refer to the school board if still not satisfied.
The Future of the Collection
School libraries are changing with the introduction many new features. Libraries are no longer places where students read books quietly. Students must not only be able to read and write, but also to research information and work independently. (Wade, 2005) Even in early primary education there is a need to include digital resources in the curriculum. In an ever expanding digital universe (in 2010 the quantity of information transmitted globally exceeded one zettabyte (Ojala, 2013)), information literacy skills and competence with digital tools is a must. People who lack these skills will face barriers to inclusion in a growing range of areas. (Ojala, 2013) Digital resources can include internet sites, databases, Web 2.0 technologies, interactive learning technologies and eBooks.
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.
The purpose of the 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.
3P Learning. (2014) Mathletics. Retrieved from http://www.mathletics.com.au/
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, (ACARA). (2013). The Australian Curriculum v4.2. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au
Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) (2010). Submission from the Australian Library and Information Association to the ACARA consultation on the draft K-10 Australian Curriculum: English, mathematics, science and history. http://www.alia.org.au/advocacy/submissions/ALIA.submission.on.the.Australian.curriculum.draft.K-10.pdf
Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009) Statement on school library resource provision. http://www.asla.org.au/policy/school-library-resource-provision.aspx
Braxton, B. (2013). Sample collection policy: Collection development. Retrieved from http://500hats.edublogs.org/?s=sample+collection+policy
Education Services Australia. (2013) Schools catalogue information service. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/home.html
Goodreads Inc. (2014) Goodreads. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/
Hughes-Hassell, S. and Mancall, J. (2005).Collection management for youth: responding to the needs of learners, ALA, pp. 3-10. http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://www.CSUAU.eblib.com/EBLWeb/patron/?target=patron&extendedid=P_289075_0
Kennedy, John. (2006). Collection management: a concise introduction. Centre for Information Studies. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.
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.
Magpies Magazine. (2014) The journals. Retrieved from http://www.magpies.net.au/magpies/public/?MIval=m_pages&pagename=MCI
Miller, D. (2008) Teaching with intention.USA: Stenhouse Publishers
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
Ojala, M. (2013) Riding the waves or caught in the tide. Information Today, Oct, 2013, Vol.30(9), p.1(2)
Quizlet. (2014) Quizlet. Retrieved from http://quizlet.com/subject/garran/
School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University. (2012). Australian teacher librarian network. Retrieved from http://oztlnet.com/
State Library of Victoria. (2014) Inside a dog. Retrieved from http://www.insideadog.com.au/
Wade, C. (2005) The school library : phoenix or dodo bird? Educational Horizons, 8(5), 12-14