Reflection on writing a collection policy for the school library

I am not currently nor ever have been teaching in the library and therefore did not have a real understanding of what was involved in the role of a teacher librarian (TL). In completing the ETL503 modules and writing a collection policy for my current school my growth in learning has been exponential. I appreciated, for instance that most school librarians are very familiar with their catalogue and the resources they are responsible for and are able to locate those resources easily. What I didn’t realise is that evaluating and weeding that collection is one way to become very familiar with those resources and is an essential and ongoing task of a TL and one that can benefit in many ways. I found Bishop (2007) Evaluation of the collection an insightful read for the many techniques it outlines and describes.

I understood too that TLs chose, bought, catalogued and shelved materials but really had no idea of what actually went into the choosing of resources to meet the unique needs of a school community. I had not even really considered the full range of those ‘resources’, the formats in which they can be presented and the considerations involved in selecting, acquiring, making them accessible and managing them. Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005) Collection management for youth gave me a much deeper understanding of the criteria for selecting resources for a learner-centred collection. In fact the entire ETL503 Module 2: Developing collections to support teaching and learning (Mitchell, P. 2013) really increased my knowledge and understanding of the role of developing a collection and in particular that of physical as well as digital resources and the considerations for each.

I felt empowered when writing the section of the policy on challenges to resources and acknowledge the very informative podcast received from Roy Crotty (2013) on the topic. I recall a challenge I received once as a classroom teacher to Roald Dahl’s Witches that I was reading to the class at the time. A parent challenged the book on religious grounds and claimed that it didn’t fit with their beliefs (their son absolutely adored the book) and that they didn’t want me to read it. The school had no policy on challenged materials so I was put in a very difficult situation which ultimately had to be referred to the principal. How much easier would it have been if I could have followed procedures already in place? I am now very much prepared if this ever happens again.

I have gained so much from this assignment in many ways but perhaps the greatest benefit has been the fact that it can be put to use in such a practical way, particularly when a school such as mine does not currently have a collection policy. I can proudly present this to the staff knowing that it has been thoroughly researched, planned and developed in a way that is relevant to our school and the needs of the students.

References:

Bishop, K. (2007). Evaluation of the collection. In The collection program in schools:concepts, practices and information sources (4th ed.) (pp. 141-159). Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited.

Crotty, R. (2013, April 24). Assignment 2: Challenges to materials. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL503_201330_W_D/page/e3a7256e-4c1e-4ffc-0046-c479e17b9489

Hughes-Hassell, S. and Mancall, J. (2005). Collection management for youth : Responding to the needs of learners. Chapter 4: Selecting resources for learning. ALA Editions.

Mitchell, P. (2013). Module 2: Developing collections to support teaching and learning [ETL503 Module 2]. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL503_201330_W_D/page/cc27bbe6-e6e0-4c57-0010-f556b9fde7d2

Moody, K. (2005). Covert censorship in libraries: A discussion paper. Australian Library Journal, 54(2), 138-147.

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