All The Light We Cannot See (ETL503 Assignment 2 Reflection)

Before this unit, I didn’t know what a library collection was.

Of course, I did know that a library was made up of many resources covering multiple curriculum areas, and that the resources had to have come from somewhere. What I was clueless about was the process, the planning, and the policies that went into making libraries the safe havens they are. Indeed, I never really considered that each school library collection would differ vastly from others until looking at collection development. A collection was a collective noun, but it certainly didn’t mean “materials in all formats and genres that a library owns or to which it provides remote access” (Johnson, 2014).It was easy enough to figure out that developing a collection naturally translated to the growth of these resources, and the way they go from suppliers to shelves, but I could never have imagined the scope of “evaluation, selection, acquisition, and weeding of information resources” (Hoffmann & Wood, 2007).

What a difference thirteen weeks can make.

With the basics of collection management successfully ticked off my list of things to learn this session, it was in to the depths of reading, learning, and bibliography annotating. However, there was a lot of light I felt I could not see. Not currently having a teaching contract, being an early career teacher, and indeed never having actually worked in the library as a teacher; suddenly it wasn’t enough to just grasp the concept presented; I felt I was missing the real core. The real world context. For both assignments I have chosen libraries for two schools I have worked in since graduating, but never had the opportunity to engage with as a teacher librarian (TL) in training. While I felt I knew enough about the general context of both schools, and I engaged with both assignments and (god forbid) enjoyed them, I was never quite sure that I was on the right enough track. While thinking about the concepts of selection and development policies in a vague way has been invaluable for my understanding of how collection management works in a broad sense (let alone how well it has stretched my imagination), not being able to connect these concepts with a tangible example has sometimes made me feel I’m stumbling in the dark.

It is perhaps for this reason that I felt hesitant to contribute to forums as the unit progressed. So many contributions spoke of personal TL experiences, that surely little old me with the severe lack of experience could never participate. Rubbish, probably, but I felt far more comfortable sitting on the sideline, absorbing the information that years of experience had pooling out of others. The perspectives offered by practicing TLs, and often their tips and tricks too (Booth’s ideas on engaging the school community in resource selection (2017) in particular have stuck out), have been just as engaging as the course work itself.

It is comforting to me, to have enjoyed the course work and discussion boards so thoroughly, coming from my lack-of-experience background. I feel that even if I haven’t had the opportunity to work as a TL, I understand their role and still look forward to being in that position one day. The TLs from my past were always very important to me as a borrower, but through Resourcing the Curriculum I have been able to appreciate how they are important on much grander scales; particularly that of the collection development policy (CDP). A CDP is a bit like Dumbledore in the way it sets up the foundation for a quality collection, and then all of a sudden is there with you fighting the battle too (very unashamedly referencing the battle of challenged materials – I offer no apologies).

The CDP can be seen as a strategic document; written goals based on and for the users of the library, and the practical ways to achieve those goals. Johnson (2014) sums this up brilliantly in saying a CDP gives the “tactics to reach this future” (p.93).  She further stresses that being attentive to changes in context and collection can require necessary review for the betterment of the CDP and collection as a whole (Johnson, 2014). The CDP and library collection also benefit from anticipating long-term shifts in context or individual user needs; and being able to adapt to provide desired effects (Johnson, 2014). This passion for the longevity of a CDP; resourcing for current and future learning needs, is inspiring and another of the many great lessons I’m so glad I was exposed to in Resourcing the Curriculum, as my first foray into this Masters course.

 


 

Booth, N. (2017). Forum 2.2 [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_81504_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_42102_1&course_id=_23916_1&message_id=_1069951_1#msg__1069951_1Id

Hoffmann, F. W., & Wood, R. J. (2007).  Library collection development policies: School libraries and learning resource centers. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.

Johnson, P. (2014). Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management (3rd ed.). Chicago: American Library Association.

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