I discovered a new word today. Tsundoku, according to Macmilland Dictionary (2017) is the habit of purchasing and piling up books that never get read. This seems rather wasteful when most libraries are suffering major budgetary concerns to waste precious funds on resources that are rarely used. Unfortunately in many school libraries the two biggest curriculum resourcing issues are that staff and students under utilise the resources followed quickly by funding pressures (SCIS 2014).
I know at my school, we have an impressive 100 000 print copies of books plus additional eResources such as Wheelers ebooks, online databases, newspaper subscriptions and access to Clickview for interactive videos. It is disappointing that even though our library is so well resourced, teachers and students seem to prefer to use google and youtube instead of accessing information from our library catalogue. It seems preposterous to me that many of the school community were unaware we even had a library management system. Their ignorance of the platforms we have in place, could extrapolate to acknowledging that lack of resource usage is proportional to the ability of the staff and students to use the OPAC system to identify and select resources.
Something needs to change. But what? The library collection development policy at the school endeavours to create a balanced collection that promotes teaching and learning as its primary goal. Other aspects such as catering to diverse learners and fitting into the budget are also relevant. All the physical and digital assets meet the policy guidelines, which is why we have this policy but what is the point if they are under utilised? What else can we do in the library to promote our resources to the staff and students? What can we do to remind them that we are not practitioners of Tsundoku?
I was musing about this problem when it occurred to me that many libraries fail in promoting their resources and capabilities. How were the staff and students going to know about new or fabulous resources in the school library? How would we remind them of what is held within and what can be accessed? It was then i remembered this post from Hamm (2016) who sends newsletters out to the faculty regularly advising them of the new and popular resources within the library. This idea seems magnificent to me as our school has several teachers who had no idea that we even subscribed to databases. Their looks of pleasure and interest peaked when I explained how they could access with ease them from both work and home with just their device and password. A quarterly newsletter published on the staff page of the school intranet would greatly improve our circulation at little cost to the library itself.
So with these thoughts in mind I thought that for my particular independent high school library in the ACT there needs to be certain parameters necessary before a resources are added to the collection.
Firstly the information source MUST match the needs of the learning community. It seems superfluous to point out that a resource is unlikely to be used if it is not relevant to the teaching and learning needs and must meet learning outcomes. The next step is to ensure that the learner traits are accounted for. We have a wide range of student learning ‘attributes’ ranging from varied literacy levels, physical and mental handicaps that need to be catered for in a variety of formats to ensure equity is maintained for the entire student body. One thing in particular our school library has done is acquire graphic novels of most of the major literature texts. With many students of varying literacy levels and acknowledging our ‘reluctant’ readers still need to be able to engage with the text, we are trialing out graphic novels in print forms in several titles including classics such as Macbeth, Hamlet, To Kill a mockingbird and the Diary of Anne Frank with the student body. Our Inclusive Education Team informs the library staff which students have been identified with low literacy levels and then these students are provided with audio books on an iPod as well as the physical text for their class work. For our reluctant readers, graphic novels are popular as the combination of the text and imagery holds greater appeal. The inclusion of these texts has bolstered up our borrowing rates and appears to help students understand the task ahead. We have also recently added Wheelers elibrary to our catalogue. This has not been as popular as predicted but has provided access to resources for our vision challenged students. Due to the nature of the licensing, only two ‘copies’ of a book can be ‘borrowed’ out at any particular time and this is restrictive with class texts. The last consideration mentioned by Hughes-Hassel, S & Mancall (2005) is budget. Resources must fit within the budget in order it to be a viable purchase for the school. We are very lucky in our school to have a principal that values education and our library budget is consistent.
We need a shift in attitude from Tsudonku.
Australian School Library Association / Australian Library and Information Services Association. (2001). Learning for the future. (2nd ed). Carlton South, Vic.: Curriculum Corporation.
BBC News (2018) Tsundoku: the art of buying books and never using them. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-44981013
Department of Education and Children’s Services, Government of South Australia. (2004). Choosing and using teaching and learning materials: guidelines for preschools and schools. Hindmarsh, South Australia : DECS Publishing
Hamm, S (2016) Library newsletters. Retrieved from https://www.teenservicesunderground.com/library-newsletters/
Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J. (2005). Collection management for youth: responding to the needs of learners Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=289075
Johnson, P. (2009). Fundamentals of collection development and management [American Library Association version]. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=267756&site=ehost-live
SCIS ( 2014) Survey of school library collections. Retrieved from ://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_88_2014/articles/school_library_collections_survey_2013.html
Resources for School Librarians () School library promotion through advocacy, special events and bulletin reports. Retrieved from http://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/resf/promote.html
Lawhimsy.com (2015) Word Nerd: Tsundoku. Retrieved from https://lawhimsy.com/2015/10/14/word-nerd-tsundoku/
Macmilllian Dictionary (2027) https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/tsundoku