“It is in the DNA” – Assessment 2 – Part B

Whats on the shelves?


School libraries (SL) are more than books on shelves.  To a fledgling teacher librarian (TL), libraries often imagine warehouses, where books awaits death and then reincarnation at Lifeline.   The reality is different; collections are not inert. SL are dynamic; they constantly evolve to suit the needs of their community.  

Framework = DNA

What makes a SL so dynamic?  Well, like any organism, it’s all in the DNA, or for SL, it’s in the Collection Development and Management Policy (CDMP).  The CDMP is the DNA of a SL and contains strategic data for growth in today’s splurge and is flexibliity in tomorrow’s freeze.  If the DNA of a SL is without clear direction and missing data, then its ability to thrive, or even survive is in jeopardy. Consequently, TL need to be aware of the duality of a CDMP that prepares the collection for today’s needs, and tomorrow’s growth.

Not faint hearted

A school CMDP exists primarily to address the curriculum, the teaching and learning needs of its community as well as provide well-being (IFLA, 2015; ASLA & VCTL, 2018).  Therefore, the policy needs to clearly reflect those needs when framing the purpose, selection principles, acquisition and censorship procedures. Along with other maintenance endeavours such as deselection and collection evaluation; all whilst staying within budget, bolstering literacy and well-being.  It is not a small task and definitely not for the faint hearted. But then TL are not faint hearted (Templeton, 2019a).

The development and management of a collection involves many facets.

Print or Digital?

  1. Understanding the information evolution and its implications on education and wider society is crucial.  TL need to be aware that previous resource acquisition has evolved now into information facilitation paradigm (Kelly, 2015). With publishers rapidly changing their delivery from print to digital formats (Templeton, 2019b), the repercussions on formats and licencing are momentous.
  2. Online Subscriptions – Cheaper? or Not?

  3. Being able to select resources using criteria to ensure the collection is balanced and addresses the needs of the community. (Templeton, 2019a)
  4. Knowledge of how resources may be packaged for cost efficiency, and evaluating that against the value of each of those titles is a challenging task (Templeton, 2019c; Templeton, 2019d.  (Module 2 – Online Access) (Module 2 – Bundling together)  
  5. Being able to manage collections thriftily is necessary when SL budgets are constantly squeezed (Softlink, 2018; Templeton, 2019e). 

    Shrinking Budgets


  6. Information literacy is an essential aspect of future focused learners (MCEETYA, 2008). The CDMP policy needs to make provision for information literacy to ensure that students have the skills to access and utilise the collection.  The inclusion of literacy programs only further strengthens a SL position within a school (Templeton, 2019l; Templeton, 2019f).  .  
  7. Awareness of censorship and its role in SL (Templeton, 2019g).

    Challenging the censors

  8. Linking budget to student population is an effective manner to secure funds that suit the growth/decline of the school community (IFLA, 2015, p.6) versus being dependent on yearly fixed sums.

Besides building a collection, a CDMP contains procedures that maintains its value and  its ability to service the needs of their community.  

  1. Measuring outputs and outcomes are useful in analysing the effectiveness and efficacy of a collection (Templeton, 2019h).
    1. Being able to link the collection value to qualitative and quantitative data validates the collection and program (Templeton, 2019i). A recent study by Sutton et al., (2017) show that altmetrics are useful in the evaluation of collections. Power (2019) suggests that both qualitative and quantitative methods are used.
    2. Linking educational outcomes to collections as evidence for continuing financial support for resources, especially digital subscriptions, is judicial.  Journal subscriptions are very expensive and a TL would need to prove value if there is insufficient evidence to indicate positive outcomes (Jubb et al., 2017). Journal databases, like many other electronic resources, may be economical up front, but often require long term subscription.

 Technology is rapidly changing and consequently now, the same information is available in multiple formats.  TL need to be aware of this paradigm when committing to subscription resources as it is more than just a commitment for the current cohort of students (Anderson, 2008).  It is a financial commitment for future generations.

A strong CDMP ensures that a library collection addresses the needs of their community, and the rewards are high resource outputs and user outcomes.  What TLs all over the world do not want are libraries with numerous books that are not utilised or under utilised. Tsundoku is the affliction of purchasing resources that no one uses (Templeton, 2019j).    

An unused collection is an ineffective collection.  It is very hard to justify a collection that has failed to prove their value their community.  It is even harder to justify the presence of TL with a collection that is not relevant.



Anderson, R. (2008). Future proofing the library; Strategies for acquisitions, cataloguing and collection development. The Serials Librarian. 55 (4). doi:10.1080/03615260802399908

ASLA & VCTL (2018). A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resources centres 2nd Edition.  ALIA. Retrieved from https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/policies-procedures-manual_ed2.pdf

IFLA (2015). School library guidelines.  Retrieved from https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/school-libraries-resource-centers/publications/ifla-school-library-guidelines.pdf

Jantti, M., and Cox, B. (2013). Measuring the value of library resources and student academic performance through relational datasets. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. 8 (2), 163-171. {Conference Paper}

Jubb, M., Rowlands, I., and Nicholas, D. (2013). Values of libraries: Relationships between provisions, usage, and research outcomes.  Evidence Based Library and Informative Practice. 8(2), 139-152 {Conference Paper}

Kelly, M. (2015). Collection development policies in public libraries in Australia: A qualitative content analysis. Public Library Quarterly. 34, 44-62

MCEETYA (2008) Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Curriculum Corporation. Australia. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/national_declaration_on_the_educational_goals_for_young_australians.pdf

Power, K (2019) Forum 5.1 – Methods of Collection Analysis. ETL503 Discussion Forum. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147540_1&message_id=_2304873_1

Softlink (2018) Australia and New Zealand school library survey. Retrieved from https://www.softlinkint.com/downloads/2018_Softlink_Australian_and_New_Zealand_School_Library_Survey_Report.pdf

Sutton, S., Miles, R., and Konkiel, S., (2017) Is what’s “Trending” whats worth purchasing? Insights from a national study of collection development librarians. The Serials Librarian. Vol 72 (1-4) pp.134-143. DOI 10.1080/0361526X.2017.1297593

Templeton, T. (2019a) Benign or Malignant. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/24/benign-or-malignant-how-do-you-diagnose/

Templeton, T. (2019b) Shatzins files – publishers to perish. Forum 1.1.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147529_1&message_id=_2152285_1

Templeton, T. (2019c) Online access. Forum 2.3.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147533_1&message_id=_2185290_1

Templeton, T. (2019d) Bundling resources. Forum 2.3.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147533_1&message_id=_2185169_1

Templeton, T. (2019e) Module 3 – Managing collections thriftily. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/04/20/managing-collections-thriftily/

Templeton, T. (2019f) Module 5.3a– Information literacy. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/05/21/module-5-3a-information-literacy/

Templeton, T. (2019g) Modules 2 & 6 0 13 reasons why – censorship and selection. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/12/13-reasons-why-censorship-and-selection/

Templeton, T. (2019h) Forum 3.1.  ETL 503 Discussion Forums. CSU. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42383_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78886_1&forum_id=_147536_1&message_id=_2249448_1

Templeton, T. (2019i) Module 5.1 – Evaluating the collection.- Keeping it real. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/04/29/evaluating-the-collection-keeping-it-real/

Templeton, T. (2019j) Module 1 – Library collections. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/11/library-collections/

Templeton, T. (2019k) Module 1 – Curriculum + information + access = Superhero. Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/13/curriculum-information-access-superhero/

Templeton, T. (2019l) Reluctant readers – would fact be better than fiction? Trish’s trek into bookspace. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/trish/2019/03/11/reluctant-readers-would-facts-be-better-than-fiction/


Module 5.1 – Evaluating the collection – Keeping it real!

Library collection evaluation is essential to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of its community.  Johnson (2014) suggests that evaluation measures the utility and effectiveness of the resources within the library.  This means that the data collated assists ensuring the value of the collection is maintained as well as assisting in collection developmental decision making in order to future proof the collection.  The evaluation assesses that the collection remains balanced and inclusive; meets the needs of the students; reflects changes in technology and that it continues to be of value to learners (Nat. Lib of NZ, n.d.).   TLs use the results of the evaluation to determine which shortfalls need to be remedied. These remedies could be as simple as increasing the number of resources, to a systematic change in the selection policies in order to adapt to the changing needs of the school (Nat. Lib. of NZ, n.d.).   Irrespective of the remedies suggested, the result is a collection that suits the needs of the community, which is the primary purpose of a library.

One of the reasons that collections require evaluation is that libraries are no longer ‘just in case’ providers of information.  In the past, when public monies were freely given to libraries, many collections held resources ‘just in case’ they were required (Grigg, 2012).  But this trend has changed. The most pressing problem facing libraries is finances with many generally struggling to maintain their funds and resourcing.  Therefore the halcyon days of endless monies are over, and with it, free range purchasing, which means that there needs to be an accountability of what is in the library and how it suits the community it services.  

There are many ways collection evaluation can be accomplished using outputs and outcomes.  Johnson (2014) separates them into user/use based vs collection based and qualitative vs quantitative based.  These methods include usage statistics of resources, formats, age and condition of materials, breadth and depth of resources as well as language style (Johnson, 2014).  Arizona State Library (2015) is similar in its terminology such as collection centred and client centred as well as qualitative and quantitative measures. Ideally, evaluation should be spread between the subsections in order to get a holistic view of the collection.  On the other hand, Grigg (2012) suggests that usage data, overlap analysis, survey instruments, benchmarking, focus groups and a balanced scorecard method are methods of evaluating collections. Both examples cite usage statistics as method of evaluation which indicates that it is an excellent source of evaluative data.

Usage data identify which resources are used most frequently and which are not and are easily collected using the library information management system.  Often described as output measures, this data is essential for digital resources, such as databases and subscription services, which often are very expensive.  Resources that are insufficiently used within a school context need to reassessed as to their value to that community. There is no point holding onto resources that are simply not used sufficiently (Hart, 2003).  

There are hurdles to successfully completing a collection evaluation.  The primary one is time. This is a process that requires a significant amount of time.  Unfortunately, the second most common thing teacher librarians complain about is lack of time.  Timing becomes more of an issue when specialist collections need to be evaluated, as subject specific teachers are often required to collaborate on the usefulness of the collection.  Ways to speed up the evaluation process include; ensuring that the collection is mapped to the curriculum; surveying the staff and students to determine needs and wants; and lastly; relevant reports are generated from the management system to gauge usage (Nat Lib. NZ, n.d.).  All of these parameters provide a TL with what resources are required by the community of learners and thus anything additional is superfluous. These processes, whilst time consuming and require a strong commitment by staff, have significant benefits. These benefits include ensuring that the collection continues to meet the needs of the community and future proofing the collection.  Additionally, one could argue that failing to allocate time and resourcing to regularly evaluate the collection could result in its value diminishing. All staff and students, as stakeholders, are affected if the collection loses its value, reliability, currency and appeal.

A method employed by many TLs in evaluating their collection, is to complete sections in short bursts.  National Library of NZ (n.d.) suggests that collection analysis is priortised when a new unit of work is created and or commenced.  Completing an assessment of the collection at this time ensures that the resources are judiciously buttressing the learning outcomes of the unit.  This evaluation can assist in the creation of Lib guides for teachers to help with their teaching and learning activities and to promote the value of the collection to the community.   In short, collection evaluation is a necessary part of library resource management and needs to be an ongoing process with a framework and fixed goals. Without regular assessment, there will be little evidence to ensure that the resources match the curriculum and needs of the community.  



Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. (2015). Collection Assessment & Mapping. Retrieved from https://www.azlibrary.gov/libdev/continuing-education/cdt/collection-assessment-mapping

Grigg, K. (2012). Assessment and evaluation of e-book collections. In R. Kaplan (Ed.), Building and managing e-book collections (pp. 127-137). Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1158439

Hart, A. (2003). Collection analysis: powerful ways to collect, analyze, and present your data. In C. Andronik (Ed.), School Library Management (5th ed., pp. 88-91) Worthington, Ohio: Linworth (on e-reserve)

Johnson, P. (2014). Fundamentals of collection development and management [American Library Association version]. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=1711419&ppg=312

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2014). Library media program: collection mapping. The school library media specialist. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/mapping.html

National Library of NZ (n.d.) Assessing your school library collection. Retrieved from https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/collections-and-resources/assessing-your-school-library-collection?search%5Bpath%5D=items&search%5Btext%5D=assessing+your+school+library+collection


Module 3.1 – Outcomes vs Outputs


Budgetary concerns plague most libraries.  Nearly two thirds of school libraries are funded inadequately and teacher librarians are often forced to decide between resources as to their value to the collection and the community (Softlink, 2017).  With monies being so tightly constrained, resources, especially expensive digital resources need to prove their value to school in order to retain their subscriptions. Teacher librarians can use a variety of indicators to illustrate the value of their collection and output measures are frequently used to determine the value of a resource and service.  

Matthews (2015) defines output measures as the “degree to which a library’s resources and services are being utilised… the more the resources and services are being used the better” (p.211).  Borrowing rates, subscription rates, database statistics are all measurements of how often a resource and service is borrowed and or utilised. An under-used resource is not achieving its highest potential and thus other services should be prioritised instead of it.  Whilst easily quantifiable, these statistics point out how frequently a resource and service is accessed. It does not highlight though if the information in the resource was used and converted into knowledge. It also does not highlight if the resource had a positive affect. A great example of resources that have low rates but high affect would be print magazines.  At my school library we have a print subscription to a few magazines that we send to the teachers lounge, once they are no longer required in the library. These magazines, according to the data, are never loaned before they are moved on, but the positive affect they have in the staff lounge is immense. We rarely find those magazines in their entirety. Quite often there will be recipes and or idea pages snipped out of them.  They then migrate to the art room where they end up as collage material for students. The output data would say that these magazines have little value to the school community but the truth is very different.

Matthews (2015) points out that outcome measures are more significant and should have a higher value as they indicate how the user’s life was changed as a result of the resource and or service.  The value lies in that the focus is the user/customer and not the resource itself. Outcomes include attitudes, values, inspiration, knowledge, understanding as well as enjoyment and creativity. Some long term outcomes are difficult to measure and categorise as they often happen years after the student has graduated.  An example of short term outcome measurement are assessments that evaluate a user’s knowledge and skills. Whereas a long term outcome measurement could be a person’s social status, lifestyle and income. Both examples show how the measurements are transient from learning to a social and economic change. In other words, outcomes are placed on a continuum and whilst harder to measure, have a greater value in their result.  

Matthews, J., (2015) Assessing outcomes and value: it’s all a matter of perspective.  Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 16 Issue: 3, pp.211-233, https://doi.org/10.1108/ PMM-10-2015-0034 Permanent link to this

Softlink. (2017). 2017 Australian and New Zealand school library survey. Retrieved from https://www.softlinkint.com/downloads/2017_Softlink_Australian_and_New_Zealand_School_Library_Survey_Report.pdf