Module 5 Reflection: Evaluating Collections

Module 5 explored collection evaluation and collection analysis. This is an area which I have explored a little myself when completing a weeding project at a previous school. After reading the module material and articles I am more aware of specific evaluation tools and criteria.

The Module material provided an overview of several areas which make up collection evaluation – including analytics, weeding, and responsibility. While I have experience in weeding collections, I have not fully considered the ways in which data and analytics can support this. Grigg and Johnson covered a variety of evaluation methods, including quantitative and qualitative methods. Johnson also separates methods into ‘collection-based’ or ‘use- and user-based’, which provides a useful breakdown of where certain types of tasks relate. Grigg focuses on 6 main methods of assessment which could apply to both print and e-books. The methods which stood out to me as effective and simple to implement were ‘usage data’, ‘focus groups’/user observation/user opinion surveys.

Larson’s CREW method for weeding was also of interest. This is not a method I was previously aware of.

C- Continuous

R- Review

E- Evaluation

W- Weeding

The design of the CREW method integrates collection analysis into an item’s life cycle. Larson states that CREW enables information to be gathered in collection strengths and weaknesses. I consider this a useful resources which I hope to come back to and review fully.

I hope to incorporate a variety of qualitative and quantitative collection evaluation methods into my future library positions. I would like to use opinion surveys and focus groups to direct purchasing towards filling gaps of student and curriculum interest. I would also like to identify the best reports in my LMS to assist with weeding, and integrate the CREW method into how I weed.

 

References

Grigg, K. S. (2012). Assessment and evaluation of e-book collections. In R. Kaplan (Ed.), Building and managing e-book collections: a how-to-do-it manual for librarians (pp. 127-137). American Library Association.

Johnson, P. (2018). Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management. American Library Association.

Larson, J. (2012). CREW: A weeding manual for modern libraries. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/pubs/crew

Module 3: Budget Considerations

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?

I think the responsibility of library budget proposals should be a combined effort between TL, library staff and a library committee. The more people who are involved can provide different perspectives and creativity into how the budget could be used to support teaching and learning. It is important that teaching and learning requirements are met and that collection maintenance can be pursued. Ultimately the budget proposal will fall to the TL, but the support given in formulating it can support the presentation to administration and show that the proposal takes into account school goals and the needs of users. Larger project proposals could be identified and developed by the library committee for inclusion into budgeting. Perhaps it lies with the TL to identify which aspects of the project are achievable for the given year, around other smaller projects they have identified.

 

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? 

I think it is important for faculties to have input into resources within the library collection. I also think ordering should be the sole responsibility of library staff. If teaching staff identify a resource they think would be useful, they need to share that with the library. Library staff are then able to check the collection (in case it is already there), and explore the resource to meet selection criteria and usability. Once approved the item can be ordered. There is option here for different payment methods – the item could be solely purchased by the faculty or the library, or the cost split 50/50. Whichever payment method is used, the item is still catalogued and processed by the library. This ensures all resources within the school are in the library system, and borrowed out to ensure accountability. In a previous site I have had faculty leaders borrow out a wide range of teacher resource books to house in the faculty office, allowing teachers to access resources without coming to the library. This means ease of access for staff. But items are only borrowed under the leader’s name – not individual teachers, and staff are not exposed to the entirety to the faculty collection in teacher resources – leading to potential lost and unused items.

Module 3 Reflection: Accession & Acquisition

Module 3 had a focus on the areas of accession and acquisition in school libraries. Specifically looking at funding, workflows and licensing arrangements.

3.1 discussed funding in school libraries and how effective budget management is key to maintaining a balanced collection and ensuring resources can be obtained. The module initially refers to the ASLA Policy Development Manual and the steps to developing a budget policy. I have found this document invaluable in the creation of my own collection development policy.

Sources of funding were also reviewed. This is not an area I have considered much past provision of budget from my site. I am aware that grant proposals are quite common in the USA for library funding, however, have not explored any of these options in Australia. I think it would be worth developing my understanding in these areas in case I need to seek extra funding in the future.

Using a budget to maintain a balanced collection means that funds are allocated towards areas of need. The balance of funds may likely vary from year to year; however, the long-term observations should be in the development of resource sections. The balancing of funds should relate back to proposed library projects and sections for renewal. The module also relates this to developing an annual report. Budget allocation, progress on projects, and teaching and learning opportunities can all be shared in the annual reports. I created an annual report one year. This is a project which I should start planning for at the beginning of the year, so I can ensure relevant data is available for the report. I find the resources provided by the National Library of New Zealand to be very detailed and a good starting point for a wide range of library activities. I will need to remember to view their resources for annual reports when I next complete this task.

3.2 focussed on the acquisition workflow and how this differs from print books to eBooks. I consider acquisition to be an area I am pretty confident with, so I found the content here to be confirming processes I have done in the past. Previously I have focussed more on print resources than eBooks (as my sites have not had resources to support this). Key areas in the workflow included selecting resources, evaluating suppliers, obtaining MARC data, labelling wish-list items, and potential outsourcing (to standing orders/packages).

3.3 expanded on acquisition of digital and eBook items through the discussion of licensing arrangements. It is important to consider pros and cons to the use of free and paid digital resources, and of course, the context of the school site as to if it can cope with digital resource hosting and usage. Licenses play a large part in digital resource selection and usage. The discussion by Morris and Sibert surrounding eBooks was very detailed and informative. When I was reading, I was thinking about how it would be good to have a mixture of a range of business models and acquisitions methods, because they each had different pros and cons. I guess this is where knowing your audience and context helps to make an informed decision. They follow on from 3.2 with an outline of workflow for eBooks. This has many similar elements to a print workflow, but with further issues regarding access and licensing. I think re-reading this chapter or exploring some concepts further with a particular site in mind would be beneficial.

Ultimately Module 3 covered some topics which I was already familiar with. But I found a few areas here which would be useful to explore further in my next TL role. This includes models around eBook purchasing and licenses, and ideas for annual reports.

 

References

Australian School Library Association & Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians. (2017). A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resource centres. (2nd ed.). Policy Development Manual. https://asla.org.au/policy-development-manual

Morris, C. & Sibert, L. (2009). Acquiring e-books. In S. Polanka (Ed.), No shelf required: e-books in libraries (p.85-107). American Library Association.

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.).  Annual report. National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/leading-and-managing/managing-your-school-library/annual-report

Module 2 Reflection Activity

Discuss how the Teacher Librarian’s expertise and role is different from that required by all teachers:

The role of the teacher librarian is different from the role of a teacher because the Teacher Librarian’s role encompasses teaching and library management. The teacher librarian is skilled in teaching and learning strategies, and classroom management. In addition to understanding 21st Century literacies (information, digital and traditional), effective search strategies, evaluation of resources, curating digital and print resources for curriculum and leisure, team teaching, promoting reading for pleasure, informing about copyright and Creative Commons, managing the acquisition and access to all resources.

The teacher librarian is able to support the teacher through collaboration on units/lessons of work, and provision of resources. Both can work independently, but student learning is boosted with the expertise and experience of both teachers and teacher librarians.

Teacher-librarians are ultimately responsible for resource selection, however they complete this task with the support and collaboration of all classroom teachers. Asking faculties/year levels what topics they will be covering across the year, gives the TL vital information for them to check that the library collection has items which will meet the content and learning needs of the students.

Resource selection can also be shared with the students. When identifying items for pleasure reading, students can indicate favourite authors, genres, reading levels, interests – in general or pick specific books from a book choosing display.

I think when resource selection becomes a collaborative effort then resources are more likely to be used and appreciated by the school community.

Module 2 Reflection: Developing Collections

Module 2 covered a large amount of content directly related to developing library collections. This was a long module, which frankly, I struggled to get through. Topics included ‘selection and the school context’, ‘the balanced collection’, ‘eResources’, ‘selection aids’, ‘selection criteria’, and ‘censorship. Most of these topics held direct relevance to my first assessment task, and the readings suggested here we useful in that way.

2.1 focused on resource selection with reference to school context, and introduced the term ‘patron-driven acquisition’. This has different meanings depending on context. For example, I would have taken the term to mean patrons are assisting with acquisition through purchase suggestions. Whereas, in reference to digital resources it could refer to eBook acquisition through patrons initiating a purchase by viewing an item.

2.2 looked at the balanced collection and the need for up-to-date policies which are in line with the school’s mission, and which support collection development. A number of areas were discussed for consideration of a balanced collection – content vs container, ownership vs subscription, single title vs bundled sets, physical vs digital, fiction vs non-fiction, and quality vs popular. The decision for each of these areas is dependent on the school context and what is right for the resource users. Several readings discussed the use of graphic novels or non-fiction texts to support student learning. I agree with Crowley that graphic novels could be considered a ‘gateway book’ towards more traditional novels. But also that they hold value as texts which support inferencing and using pictures to understand the text. The wide range of types of graphic novels also support wide interests and curriculum links. McEwan’s comments on the usefulness of print nonfiction also hold true with me. I think a balanced collection definitely holds selected nonfiction – perhaps at easy readability and curriculum aligned. In some cases, the right nonfiction text can provide quicker and easier answers than a web search.

Key considerations raised in 2.3 about eResources were about access and promotion. With a variety of eBook vendors and platforms available it is important that the TL makes an informed decision based on ease of use and what the school can support. I learnt that some platforms can be integrated into the school Library Management System. I think this would make searching for resources more efficient, as all items can be searched in one place. Promotion of eResources can be more difficult than print, as you do not have a physical item you can put on display. Displaying eResources on the school library webpage/LMS home page would make them more visible to users. In addition digital scrolling displays could be used as screen savers or on a projection screen. I think promotion of digital resources is highly important. If users do not know you have resources, then they will not use them.

2.5 covers selection criteria. Selection criteria is how the TL ensures that resources are useful to the user and meet teaching and learning content, and library goals. Through this topic I learnt that selection criteria have layers, from very general to very specific, and they can vary depending on the format of the item or fiction vs non-fiction. I found the National Library of New Zealand information on selection criteria very helpful in exploring examples.

Censorship (2.6) relates directly to selection criteria. I think that if I had a purchase challenged that I would be wary with purchasing in the future, particularly if the challenge was by leadership. I think identifying the merits of the text and how it fits the selection policy before purchasing would provide a good background for possible challenges.

A primary school library I worked in had a ‘Year 6/7’ section which contained longer books and those with more mature themes, I suppose this could be censorship by labelling (Moody). These items needed notes from parents if you were in Year 4 or 5 to read them, and if students were younger they were not allowed to borrow them. From a school library perspective, if a student really wanted access to a book ‘out of their age range’ then it could be accessed with parents at a public library.

While I found this module difficult to get through a few points did stand out to me. The idea of a balanced collection is clearly very important to ensure adequate resourcing for teaching and learning, and also equitable access through format variety. I would also like to explore the National Library of New Zealand further to support future policies and criteria I will create.

 

References

Crowley, J. (2015). Graphic novels in the school library: using graphic novels to encourage reluctant readers and improve literacy. The School Librarian, 63(3). 140-142.

McEwan, I. (2018). Trending now. Teacher Librarian, 45(3). 50-52.

Moody, K. (2005). Covert censorship in libraries: a discussion paper. Australian Library Journal, 54(2). 138-147. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049670.2005.10721741

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.). Selecting and purchasing resources. National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/collections-and-resources/selecting-resources-for-your-collection/selecting-and-purchasing-resources

Part C – Final Reflection

When I started this topic, I was aiming to expand my understanding of Information Literacy, and explore the role the Teacher-Librarian (TL) further. This has occurred, specifically in the area of advocacy. I have reflected on my past practice and how I could improve now with this extra growth in knowledge, application and understanding.

 

Information Literacy

Prior to undertaking this topic (ETL401) I understood the basics of Information Literacy (IL) to be research skills, referencing, and ethical use of digital information. I have come to understand that there are more than 3 types of literacy (Re-Defining Literacy), and the aim of IL skill development is to help students to develop skills for success in the 21st Century information environments.

One of my biggest take-aways from the readings and Module 5 discussions was the importance of context and purpose when defining IL and implementing it in the classroom. I have also been introduced to the concept of Information Fluency (IF). I have come to understand this as being associated with IL, but with a focus on fluency of application instead of just understanding and literacy. I am curious about this terminology and the implications of using different terminology within the field of IL. I lean towards seeing IF as an overarching term which encompasses IL and Digital Literacy (DL).

Within my practice I would like to explore IF further and compare it against IL and DL. I would do this to become more knowledgeable about different 21st Century learning processes, and to build my capacity to implement and advocate for a particular IL method. I think IF should be the aim of information skill develop in 21st Century teaching and learning.

 

Information Literacy Models

I was aware of some IL models prior to this topic, but have not had the opportunity to explore them thoroughly. Through readings and Module 5 discussions, I have come to understand some differentiating details between IL models. I have also found that there many similarities, and trying to identify in-depth reasoning behind not using a particular model can be challenging.

I found this area of learning relevant to my previous context where I was endeavouring to integrate inquiry units into HASS. For that task I chose the 5As as my IL model because another school in the region also used it and shared their resources. I now understand that the 5As are linked to Information Fluency. I was pleasantly surprised when I made this connection.

This module has caused me to re-think other IL models and the process of integrating them across the curriculum. Based on Lupton’s paper and various exemplars of practice in implementing an IL model from Module 4, I would like to explore GID, and the 5As further to identify which model would be best suited to my circumstances. As I mentioned, I think IF is a good way to achieve 21st Century skill development. I might explore this model first.

 

TL Role in Inquiry Learning

The role the TL must play in advocating for IL within schools has become clearer to me throughout this topic. This is in addition to developing relationships and collaborative opportunities with students and staff. This topic has solidified for me the need for the TL to be involved in faculty planning and curriculum development to ensure integration of IL skills. Discussion in Module 4.3 indicates a TL’s involvement in curriculum development is necessary as they can see the big picture and know where IL skills can be best integrated.

Advocacy is an area I do not have much experience in. These discussions in Module 3 and Bonanno’s video were significant to me as I began to consider data collection and advocacy as not just for usage statistics, but as a way to get staff and the Principal on-side with developing IL across the school. Module 3 also made me reflect on the ways I could have practiced advocacy with a supportive teacher audience and converted Principal.

Reflection and assessment tools to collect data on student learning is something I would like to explore further in the future. I would do this through the use of competency-based questionnaires and reflective toolkits, as discussed in Module 4. A common theme through 4.2 discussions was making yourself available in small ways and taking baby steps to convince staff that working collaboratively with the TL is a good idea. When I start in my next TL role, I will take this approach to ‘test the waters’ on staff opinion and practice.

 

While I thought I knew much coming in, I have added new areas to my TL knowledge which will enable me to provide a greater impact in schools, and better advocate for the use of a TL in schools. I am still learning to apply my critical thinking skills to a range of concepts.

Module 3: The Role of the Teacher Librarian: Reflection

This module helped to clarify further the role of the TL. I was already aware of the AITSL Standards for Teacher Librarians and have found them to be helpful during my transition from provisional to full registration. As previously posted, Karen Bonanno’s speech and paper provided a thinking hat for ensuring the school librarian remains relevant. Her five-finger plan is something I plan to put into practice.

I found the readings regarding the role of the TL interesting and engaging. I found the most important role the TL played was in regard to relationships with students, teachers and the principal. Purcell and Lamb also put leadership and people first in their role descriptions. Advocacy is also very important, and getting the Principal onside is essential for the future of TLs in schools.

The TL and the Principal work together to achieve goals. The TL must make themselves relevant to the Principal by integrating themselves into their projects and showing how they can help. They also need to promote their services (eg. Inquiry Learning) and show how they link to the Principals outcomes. The Principal assists with collaboration through flexible scheduling and requiring a collaborative culture from staff. The connection between TL and Principal is added to by the TLs use of evidence-based practice.

At the conclusion of this module I have gained a stronger understanding of the importance of advocacy and collection of data within the library. This is something I would like to work on in the future.