September 18

A Balanced Collection

Browse your school or local library. Does the library have a balanced collection? Does it include the full range of resource formats and delivery modes identified above?

My school library collection is heavy in some areas and light on in others. At least for the needs of my primary school community, I think the collection is quite strong, although there are some gaps that I’d like to fill over the next couple of years.

Browsing the collection has certainly helped me to find some of those gaps!

Multiple formats and delivery modes Our school has a reasonable range of print resources, although we don’t store any large posters, infographs, ephemera or maps within the library itself. Big books are stored in the junior primary building. We have access to a wide variety of eBooks through the Scholastic Literacy Pro program, but we don’t have any subscriptions to popular eBook titles as students generally don’t access them and we’re trying to save money on that front. We don’t have DVDs or CDs as these sorts of resources can be found online. I’m not sure about Realia. This might also be stored elsewhere within the school. I’ll have to investigate!
Reading and comprehension levels and social development The Lexile system is used effectively from Year 2 to Year 7. Foundations and Year Ones use readers from Level 1 to Level 30 before accessing the Lexile program. We have an excellent range of books varying from very low to very high reading levels. We also have magazines but no newspapers. So far I haven’t come across any material that is socially inappropriate.
Support for the curriculum Recently I cleared out the NF section because many of the resources were old and tattered. I am now beginning to see gaps that I need to fill, especially when students come in asking for a book on a particular topic. We do have lots of resources for STEM topics, as well as Sustainability, Civics and Citizenship, and Australia.
Leisure resources to challenge and maintain literacy development Again, our leisure-based resources are many. We have six years worth of Guinness Book of Records, magazines, joke books, games, construction and fact books. We don’t have a whole lot of books that are dual language. Our school teaches Japanese, so it would be good to have more resources related to that as well.
Catering for different learning styles I don’t know exactly what we have in terms of Teacher Resources. I am thinking that I should start here when I do stocktaking for the first time at the end of the year. I know that the STEM teacher has lots of kinaesthetic learning resources stored in the library. We don’t have any audiobooks, as far as I know.


July 14

Reflecting on an Information Agency

Choose a site from a previous study visit schedule and write some notes for yourself about it and who you think its users might be.

I chose the Adelaide Study Visit schedule from 2015. Students visited the SA Water Library on Thursday 30th June at 11:30am to 1:00pm.

The SA Water Library on the 2015 Adelaide Study Visit Schedule

This information agency caught my attention because it was somewhat surprising that they had a library. SA Water looks after water provision for the state of South Australia.

I wonder what their library collection would hold? It might have historical records of the agency’s activities in the state, South Australia’s water usage and origin, or information resources about water in a more general sense. It might have maps of South Australia with locations of important water-related landmarks, or pollution and waterway management information.

I wonder who the users might be? Of course, SA Water employees might need information from the library. Would there be any users from outside the organisation? Maybe external agencies, like builders, would need information about pipes. Or businesses might need to know about the management of waterways.

Research the agency and the type of users it has. Reflect on how hard or easy it is to find information about the organisation and its users, whether the information you found aligned with your assumptions of the site, and how you might frame your investigation if you were visiting the site.

When I clicked on the link provided in the Study Visit program, there was a Page Not Found error. So, I typed ‘sa water library’ into Google. The second link listed led to an error page. The fifth link looked promising but also led to an error.

Already, it is hard to find information about this agency. I should bear in mind, though, this Study Visit was scheduled five years ago, so things will have changed.

I did find a SA Water Library Registration Form, available for school teachers who wanted to borrow resources for their teaching units. The SA Water website itself also had some pointers as to what the library might contain. There was information about water services, recycling, drinking and tap water, wastewater treatment, and more.

My assumptions were a little off! It certainly seems as though the SA Water Library caters for external users as much as it would for employees. I am interested to visit SA Water in Adelaide CBD to check it out!

May 22

ETL503 Assessment Item 2: Part B – Reflective Practice

Beginning with a broad snapshot in Module One, then gradually working through the principles underlying selection, acquisition and evaluation of resources, ‘ETL503: Resourcing the Curriculum’ has given me a firm grasp of each element of the collection development process in school libraries.

Firstly, selection. This element begins with analysis of the learners, educational philosophy, curriculum, and strengths and weaknesses of the current collection (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005, pp. 21 & 35-40). Next, using selection aids to identify appropriate resources (Johnson, 2018, p. 123). Then, applying selection criteria to the resources found and deciding whether the resources should be added to the collection (Johnson, 2018, p. 138).

Even in the early stages of the course material it became clear – collection development must be based on the needs and requirements of the learning community (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005, p. 33; Johnson, 2018, p. 26). This principle was a constant thread from Module One to Module Seven. For example, in my Module Two blog post, A Fiction v Non-fiction SmackdownI spoke about the tension between fiction and non-fiction texts used for reading assessments at a familiar school. My concluding statement proved that the library collection must have a balanced mixture of both to support the curriculum.  Then, again, as part of the module on acquisition and access, the link between collection development and the needs of the community provided a basis for my post in Discussion Forum 3.2, from 9 April, about acquiring engaging levelled readers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

After considering legal and ethical issues around collection development, the course moved on to collection evaluation – analysing the collection to see how effective it is in fulfilling its purpose (Johnson, 2018, p. 281). I added a post to Discussion Forum 5.1 on 1 May about my favoured methods of collection analysis and wrote about the practicalities of collection evaluation at one particular school in my blog post, Evaluating the Collection. This post included a community needs-centred list of benefits highlighted by the National Library of New Zealand (n.d., “Why assess your library collection). Once again, the needs of the learning community were at the heart of another aspect of collection development.

There are many facets to collection development, as demonstrated. To ensure that the needs and requirements of the learning community are, indeed, met, school libraries should prepare a collection development policy (CDP). On one level, an effective CDP outlines selection, acquisition and evaluation principles (Johnson, 2018, p. 82), and guides library staff to make strong collection decisions. However, it also acts as a strategic document in a number of ways.

Most importantly, the document can be used to demonstrate the relevance of the school library and its collection in today’s educational climate, an important task for school librarians (Harvey, 2016, p. 131). With clear statements in writing, the CDP demonstrates to stakeholders that the library does have purpose, and does align with school and education department priorities (Johnson, 2018, pp. 82 & 86). Furthermore, the CDP demonstrates how the collection serves the learning community in a way that improves students’ achievement, and provides a platform for funding requests and budget allocations based on that information (Johnson, 2018, p. 86). The CDP guides staff in their responses to challenges to library resources, and prevents censorship and bias during selection and deselection processes (Johnson, 2018, p. 87).

Without all of this information documented in a clear, well-written policy, nobody knows what the library is doing now, or how the library is preparing for the what comes next (Johnson, 2018, p. 83).

It is our role to keep an ever-watchful eye on what’s on the horizon and where we might be heading in the future.”

Mitchell, 2011, p. 13

The school library exists as part of an information society, where information processes are at the heart of our cultural, technological, occupational, spatial and economic existence (Webster, 2014, p. 10). Through the collection, and the statements in the CDP, it is up to the school library to provide organised access to that information (IFLA, 2015, p. 17) as schools prepare students for life in an information-driven constantly-evolving 21st-Century world.


Harvey, C.A. II. (2016). The 21st-century elementary school library program: Managing for results (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

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

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). (2015). IFLA school library guidelines (2nd revised edition). Retrieved from

Johnson, P. (2018). Fundamentals of collection development and management (4th ed.). Chicago: ALA Editions.

Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing the 21st century online Australian Curriculum: The role of school libraries. The Journal for the School Information Professional, 15(2), 10-15. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.). Assessing your school library collection. Retrieved from

Webster, F. (2014). Theories of the information society. 4th ed. London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

May 15

Comparing Library Collection Development Policies

Examine and compare a number of models of collection policies to gather ideas for writing your own.

To complete this task, I examined the two Australian links provided in the course material and searched for a new Collection Development Policy (CDP) online to compare policy elements with the recommendations. After a quick search, I discovered the Geelong Regional Library CDP.

There were a number of similar elements that appeared across each model, although they were presented in different ways. For example, VCTL and ALIA (2017, p. 8) recommended the inclusion of a rationale that linked to the school’s vision and values. The State Library of Queensland (SLQ) (2013, p. 1) did not use the term ‘rationale’ but recommended that the CDP be aligned to the Strategic Plan and provided a statement on how the collection supported the library’s role. The Geelong Regional Library CDP was very explicit in its outline of context, with a clear statement on vision, mission, goals and values (2014, pp. 5-6).

Other elements that were included in the models and policy example were dates for review, scope of resources, parameters of the collection, what to do with donations, how to deal with challenges and controversial resources, and collection evaluation. The VCTL and ALIA model recommended including a date of ratification (p. 9). While the Geelong Regional Library CDP didn’t provide an exact date, it did include a comprehensive outline of how the CDP came to be and how it fits with the library’s context and rationale (p. 4). From this, it is clear when the policy was implemented. VCTL and ALIA also suggested including the “personnel responsible for selection and the types of resources held” (p. 8). The Geelong Regional Library CDP was quite succinct in outlining responsibilities (p. 7).

One section that I couldn’t find in either of the models was stakeholder engagement. The Geelong Regional Library CDP included a detailed statement on how to engage with its stakeholders and community (p. 7).


Geelong Regional Library Corporation. (2014). Geelong regional library collection development policy 2014-17. Retrieved from

State Library of Queensland. (2013). Queensland public library standards and guidelines: Library collections standard August 2013. Retrieved from

VCTL & ALIA. (2017). A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resource centres (2nd ed.). Retrieved from

May 3

Evaluating the Collection

What are the practicalities of undertaking a collection evaluation within a school in terms of time, staffing, and priorities, as well as appropriateness of methodology?

Without any experience working in a library, I believe that an effective collection evaluation can take place if it is part of a well-planned cycle, as suggested by Johnson (2014, p. 328). The librarian needn’t evaluate the entire collection at once. Rather, they can focus on each next resource category as part of a long-term plan (Johnson, 2014, p. 328). It is not practical, however, for school libraries with fewer staff to take on more complex evaluation methodologies, such as the Balanced Scorecard method (Grigg, 2012, p. 132), or Direct Collection Analysis (Johnson, 2014, p. 316), unless additional staff or time is granted for this specific purpose, or if a specific area is identified as requiring urgent evaluation. A more appropriate approach might be to implement a selection of simple methodologies, such as Circulation Studies (Johnson, 2014, p. 323), for each area of the library collection, throughout the evaluation cycle, and implement complex methodologies when practical. Then, at least, some relevant and consistent data will be available at any given time.

At the school with which I am most familiar, the librarian works alone and is not employed full-time in the library. The simple schedule mentioned above would be most appropriate in this case.

How does the need for, and possible benefits of an evaluation of the collection outweigh the difficulties of undertaking such an evaluation?

The National Library of New Zealand (n.d., “Why assess your library collection”) highlights the many benefits of a collection evaluation:

  • Ensuring that the collection meets students’ needs.
  • Ensuring that the collection supports the teachers and the curriculum.
  • Growing stronger partnerships between the library and other staff.
  • Ensuring the collection is balanced, inclusive and relevant.

Although it may be difficult to undertake complex evaluations, a school library is only as good as the degree to which it effectively services its community (Johnson, 2014, p. 297). If a librarian chooses a simpler method of evaluation, or no evaluation at all, simply because there will be difficulties along the way, then the library is not fulfilling its purpose.

Is it better to use a simple process with limited but useful outcomes, or to use the most appropriate methodology in terms of outcomes?

Despite being more complex, and often impractical, the methodology with the most useful outcomes should be used to ensure the school library collection stays up-to-date with the needs of its students and teachers. Of course, due to time and staffing limitations, it is not always possible to use the most appropriate methodology and the process with limited outcomes will be better than nothing, especially if the library needs data to explain selection or deselection decisions, or campaign for funding in certain areas.


Grigg, K.S. (2012). Assessment and evaluation of e-book collections. In Kaplan, R. (Ed), Building and managing e-book collections (pp. 127-137). Chicago: Neal-Schuman

Johnson, P. (2014). Fundamentals of collection development and management (3rd ed.). Chicago: ALA Editions

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.). Assessing your school library collection. Retrieved from

April 9

Funding and Budget Proposals

Should teacher librarians have the responsibility of submitting a budget proposal to fund the library collection to the school’s senior management and/or the school community? Or should such proposals come from a wider group such as a school library committee?

O’Connell (2017, p. 383) states that “It is the responsibility of the teacher librarian or resource teacher in collaboration with teachers and other professional staff to resource the curriculum.” The keyword in this case is collaboration. With more people involved in the decision-making process, there is a greater chance that the budget proposal, and resulting library collection, will be more attuned to the learning community’s needs. The teacher librarian should oversee the process and have the final say, but it is a good idea to seek information about where the collection might be lacking from a range of stakeholders.

So, budget proposals should come from a school library committee or similar group, although, since they have the final say, the teacher librarian may actually hand in the proposal to the relevant authority.

Is it preferable that the funding for the school library collection be distributed to teachers and departments so they have the power to determine what will be added to the library collection?

Again, collaboration is critical when developing the library collection. However, based on experiences as a classroom teacher, finding the time to search for, analyse and justify new resources for the library collection will be challenging. Sure, teachers and departments should be able to make requests for certain resources, or types of resources, but distributing the financial figures and giving teachers the power to choose what goes into the library might not work. What if, the following year, the teacher moves on to another school, and they were the only stakeholder to lobby for a particular resource?


O’Connell, J. (2017). School libraries. In Abdullahi, I. (Ed.), Global library and information science: A textbook for students and educators. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Saur

March 19

Tension in the Library

Think of an occasion when you have witnessed tension between what a teacher or student is looking for and what a library collection holds.

One of the English topics I studied at Flinders University was called ‘Fiction for Young Readers’. A wide range of children’s books were listed as essential reading. Titles included the artistic Window and Where the Forest Meets the Sea, by Jeannie Baker; the wonderfully illustrated John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, by Jenny Wagner; the well-known classics, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, and Possum Magic, by Mem Fox; and longer texts, such as Two Weeks with the Queen, by Morris Gleitzman, and Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo, by Tim Winton.

Jeannie Baker's artistic picture books

Jeannie Baker’s Window and Where the Forest Meets the Sea (Source: Author)

All of the books were available at the university bookshop. With only the meagre wages of a part-time Hungry Jacks employee in my wallet, I decided to purchase books on the list that I thought I might use in the classroom one day, or those with sentimental value. I loved Jeannie Baker’s books as a child and Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo remains one of my favourites to this day. Of course, I was able to borrow John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat from my mother, so I didn’t have to buy that one.

Two Weeks with the Queen and Lockie Leonard

Two Weeks with the Queen and Lockie Leonard (Source: Author)

For those who couldn’t afford the books on the list, or for those who wanted to save money, the books were made available at the university library. It was here that I witnessed tension between what students were looking for and what the library collection held.

With so many students enrolled in the topic, it was almost impossible to borrow them, even with a two hour loan-limit placed on them. To borrow the longer texts, you had to arrive on campus really early, or leave quite late so that the chances of a text being unavailable were reduced. And even then, other students had the same idea.

This story highlights the benefit of a multiple user model, where any number of users can access a electronic text at any given time (Kimmel, 2014, p. 57). Had the books been available to every student, all the time, there would have been no tension at all. I think that by now, almost ten years later, the system would have improved.


Kimmel, S.C. (2014). Developing Collections to Empower Learners [American Library Association]. Retrieved from

March 18

A Fiction v Non-fiction Smackdown

Is tension between fiction and non-fiction a trend you have seen in your workplace?

Over the course of my time at Willsden Primary School in 2014, 2015 and 2017, I observed, from a distance, not so much a “smackdown” between fiction and non-fiction books (Mosle, 2012, para. 8) but a never-ending directional change. The changes occurred in the context of reading assessments, in particular, whether or not students should be tested using only fiction texts, only non-fiction texts, or a balanced mixture of both.

Initially, reading assessments were conducted using only fiction texts as it was assumed that this was the type of text that students had been most exposed to and, therefore, were most likely to achieve success with. Non-fiction texts set up for assessments were available but used rarely, as a backup to fiction.

Soon, it became apparent that students weren’t building on the skills they needed to successfully read non-fiction texts, even though the school’s reading results were improving. A new policy was agreed upon – fiction texts were to be used in terms 1 and 3, non-fiction texts were to be used in terms 2 and 4.

When students read non-fiction texts they:

  • grow and build on their interest in the topic.
  • see and reflect on examples of nonfiction writing.
  • upskill in comprehension, questioning and summarising strategies.

(National Library of NZ, 2014)

When comprehension became a school focus, some staff argued that teaching comprehension through non-fiction texts would be easier and build a foundation for students’ comprehension of fiction texts.

I believe that the school has stuck to its two-term fiction / two-term non-fiction policy, although the way that reading assessments are being conducted is changing dramatically. Soon, a flexible arrangement may be implemented. In this case, the teacher may use professional judgement as to which type of book is used for an assessment at any given time with a particular student.

I worry that by placing an emphasis on either fiction or nonfiction texts, students will have gaps in their skill base. As such, achieving balance between fiction and non-fiction in the library collection is important (Giavenco, 2019).

To fulfill K-5 standards in The United States, teachers must ensure they teach a 50-50 balance between fiction and non-fiction (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2019, para. 14). In contrast, the Australian Curriculum does not mandate an exact percentage balance, although it calls for students to experience a wide range of relevant literary texts, including “fiction for young adults and children” and “a variety of non-fiction” (ACARA, 2019, para. 12). Clearly, the library collection must have a balanced mixture of both to support the requirements of the curriculum.


ACARA. (2019). Key ideas | The Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2019). Key Shifts in English Language Arts. Retrieved from

Giavenco, G. (2019). 2.2 The Balanced Collection. In ETL503: Resourcing the Curriculum, [Learning module]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website:

Mosle, S. (2012, November 22). What Should Children Read? [Blog Post]. Opinionator: The New York Times. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand. (2014). Non-fiction. National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. Retrieved from