Search Results for: sample collection policy

Sample Collection Policy




collection development

rationale mission statement the nature of the users the purpose and role of the collection
the nature of the collection  priorities and goals  the selection of the collection  specific selection criteria
 development of the digital collection  funding  acquisition  promotion
collection evaluation deselection of resources challenged materials policy review

Appendix A

specific selection criteria

Appendix B 

challenged materials policy


A library’s Collection Development Policy describes and details how the resource collection will be developed to meet the needs of its users, both staff and students. It should be closely aligned to the library’s Mission Statement and include information about

  • the policy’s purpose and role
  • its use
  • its authority including responsibility for its development, ratification, implementation and review
  • the purpose of the collection – why it exists so its scope and focus are clear ensuring that all development relating to acquisition of resources or location and access to them is relevant to and supports that purpose.
  • those who will use the collection and their needs, interests and abilities including special or specific requirements
  • access to the collection including a statement about password-protected resources
  • the nature of the collection including its format; considerations imposed by the religious, ethical or cultural nature of the school; and any significant collections within it such as archival records
  • the prioritised goals for the development of the collection during the life of the policy,  and the milestone and indicators for the achievement of these
  • the budget, its preparation; allocation based on identified priorities;  disbursement;  and who has responsibility for these tasks
  • the use of selection aids
  • selection criteria, both general and specific for all formats
  • acquisition and purchasing policies including selection criteria for determining suppliers, preferred sources and dealing with donations
  • collection evaluation and de-selection
  • challenged materials
  • policy review timetables

A Collection Policy not only offers guidance for the direction of the development of the collection but also ensures that one person or group’s agenda does not drive decisions, skewing the collection towards one bias or another.  While Australia no longer has active, official censorship of books, Banned Books Week, organised by the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. is still a significant event in the US library calendar, and this story from September 2019  demonstrates the power one person can have if there is no policy. 

Once ratified by the school’s executive body, it provides a solid defence for challenges to the resources held in the collection enabling the TL to demonstrate why there are resources from a variety of perspectives on controversial topics in the collection, why they are labelled and housed as they are, and why funds are being spent in a particular way.  It is one of the most important policies in the library’s paperwork. 

mission statement

Include this because it is the platform for all decisions and actions.

The staff of the Catherine Palmer Resource Centre understand and undertake the responsibilities identified in the International Federation of Library Associations/UNESCO School Library Manifesto and the Australian School Library Association’s Bill of Rights so that our staff can deliver all that is required to enable our students to become confident and competent readers and independent, efficient and effective users of information.

We are dedicated to providing and promoting intellectual and physical access for all to an extensive range of print and electronic resources, tools and technologies which will meet the educational needs of all members of our staff and student body enrich and enhance our educational philosophy and curriculum stimulate interest and independence in literacy encourage our staff and students to create and manipulate ideas and information efficiently and effectively so that they become independent lifelong learners


the nature of the users

Identifying the users of the collection ensure their needs are explicitly identified and acknowledged and ensures the policy relates to these.

The collection is being developed for a government primary school of 450 students, with an even spread of students in K-2, 3-4 and 5-6.  There is a significant number of students for whom English is a second language and so there is an emphasis on providing resources which reflect and support the multicultural nature of the school, but on the whole, according to national and school-based data, most students are achieving at or above their year level. Resources will reflect both the diverse nature of students’ backgrounds as well as their needs, interests and abilities. Teaching staff are involved in the rollout of the new Australian National Curriculum and so collection appraisal and development will be driven by this during the life of the policy so that there are sufficient resources in a range of formats for them to be able to design and deliver what is required. The school has been at the forefront of embedding ICT into the curriculum and as well as having access to hardware and the Internet throughout the school, they are also encouraged to bring their own devices. All students have Internet access at home. This enables the development of a significant online collection where appropriate. However, as research continues to demonstrate the need for a broadening of the concept of text and a need and preference for students to have access to a variety of formats in order to develop the traditional literacy skills which underpin the “new” skills, texts in all formats will be acquired to meet these needs.


the purpose and role of the collection

Establishing the purpose of the collection provides the foundation on which all decisions and actions are based. 

The collection is being developed to

  • satisfy the teaching and learning needs of all the members of our staff and student body
  • meet the recreational reading needs of our students from beginning readers through to those ready for young adult titles
  • enable our students to read stories that are about children just like them so they can see that there are others who are facing the same issues and challenges and know that not only are they not alone, but there is hope and support to accept and/or overcome them.

  • enable our students to read stories that confirm, challenge and perhaps change their beliefs, offer them comfort in difficult times and inspire them and encourage them to aspire to new heights
  • provide resources in a range of formats to support, enrich and enhance the curriculum, taking into consideration the varied learning needs and styles, recreational and study interests and maturity levels of the students
  • provide a wide range of materials on all levels of difficulty, with a diversity of appeal and the presentation of different points of view including those that reflect the lives of students in relation to their culture, ethnicity, language, religion and beliefs, community and family structure, sexual orientation and any other consideration
  • provide resources in a range of formats to assist in the design, development and delivery of the curriculum
  • provide resources which will enable the acquisition of factual knowledge, support further inquiry and the development of literary appreciation, aesthetic values and ethical standards
  • provide resources which offer a breadth and diversity of subjects so students can follow or expand their interests
  • provide resources which offer a breadth and diversity of viewpoints on various issues so that students may develop their critical thinking skills and make informed judgments
  • provide resources representative of our religious, ethnic and cultural groups and their contribution to our school and Australia’s heritage
  • provide resources that will encourage growth in knowledge and that will reflect the literary, cultural, and aesthetic diversity in the world today
  • ensure a comprehensive, balanced collection of the highest quality resources appropriate for its users based on principle and professional practice not personal prejudice


the nature of the collection

This section should provide a snapshot of the current collection  which contains enough detail to serve as both a benchmark for measurement when the policy is evaluated for success, as well as establishing the platform for development. This section should also include the rationale for goals and priorities, so that need and demand are identified and decisions and expenditure defensible

The collection is built on a collaborative access model which encourages input from both staff and students about the acquisition of resources that will best meet their needs although the final decision rests with the teacher librarian to ensure that resources

  • are the best available to support the needs, interests and abilities of the collection’s users 
  • meet the selection criteria
  • have a reasonably widespread appeal and potential for use
  • avoid unwanted duplication
  • are in a format that best represents the information and context that meet the needs of the users

The current collection contains

  • fiction in a variety of formats including magazines, comics, picture books, graphic novels, audiobooks, ebooks, interactive stories and novels of all genres to cater for  students from pre-school to young adult
  • a collection of fiction in languages spoken in the school
  • non-fiction in a variety of formats to support the curriculum and to extend students’ knowledge and interests
  • a reference collection, including atlases and dictionaries, to provide continuous access to basic knowledge
  • a teachers’ reference collection to support the curriculum and to enhance professional knowledge
  • a collection of fiction and non fiction DVDs to support the curriculum
  • selected software loaded on to the school’s intranet
  • links to pre-selected sites from the school website for staff,  students and parents which support literacy development, the curriculum, games and Web 2.0 and social networking tools
  • subscriptions to appropriate information and learning services such as Enchanted Learning, Mathletics, and World Book Online for Kids

Whilst the bulk of the collection is in print format, audio, visual, electronic and digital resources are critical elements. Based on an analyses of staff and student preferences, and because the school is introducing a BYOD policy, priority will be given to complementing the current collection with resources available through new technologies. 

However, in recognition of the research that demonstrates that the ability to read, interpret and use information onscreen is dependent on a solid foundation of traditional literacy skills developed using print, the print collection will continue to be built to support this. This will also support those users who have a preference for print or who do not have access to a suitable Internet-enabled device.

All students will have access to all sections of the collection, with the exception of those designated Teacher Reference (TR) and Senior Fiction (SF).

Teacher Reference will comprise resources which will enable staff to design and deliver the curriculum so that it remains fresh and relevant for students.  It will include teaching resources such as big books, video resources (fiction and non-fiction), maps, posters and so forth that support classroom programs.

Senior Fiction will comprise novels which are generally considered to be for young adults, acknowledging that some of our senior students seek ‘edgier’ titles particularly in the contemporary realistic fiction genre. This collection will only be available to those in Years 5/6 with parental consent and selection criteria are made explicit in the Specific Selection Criteria section of this document. (Appendix 1) Apart from the Senior Fiction collection no resource in the general collection will be shelved, labelled or displayed in a way that discriminates or marginalises a user on the grounds of 

  • ability
  • culture
  • ethnicity
  • religion
  • sexual orientation
  • any other consideration


priorities and goals

This policy is the blueprint for how the collection will be developed during its life so it needs to identify what is to be achieved during its life. Because these goals are then evaluated for achievements and success when the policy is reviewed, they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Priorities for the life of this policy are

  • appraising current resources to ensure they support the requirements of the new Australian National Curriculum as it is released and implemented, and providing new, appropriate resources where necessary
  • appraising and developing a collection which meets the requirements of the Australian National Curriculum in relation to the cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Asia, multicultural literature from beyond Asia, and sustainability
  • appraising current resources to ensure they are appropriate for implementing the 25 Essential Learning Achievements of Every Chance to Learn
  • establishing a partnership with the local library to provide access to ebooks
  • identifying, selecting, acquiring and providing access to digital resources including ebooks which support students’ needs, interests and abilities
  • evaluating the existing print collection for authority, accuracy, currency, objectivity and relevance and deselecting where appropriate
  • maintaining and developing the print collection to support the development of traditional literacy skills in accordance with the research that demonstrates this is a necessity for the development of new-format  literacy skills.


the selection of the collection

While selection may be collaborative, establishing who has the final authority for selection and the criteria that resources must meet is essential to ensure the collection remains current and relevant. Criteria should be as specific as possible and encompass general considerations that apply to all resources as well a specific considerations for particular formats.

The selection of quality educational resources that support, extend and enrich the education of students, while providing good value for money, is an important aspect of the collection development process of any library. Acting on authority delegated by the principal, the teacher-librarian has the responsibility for the professional co-ordination of the collection, as it is acknowledged that that person has the best knowledge of existing resources, the overall school curriculum and what is available from the publishers. Staff and students are invited to make suggestions for new purchases to assist in selection but suggested titles must meet selection objectives and criteria, as must any donated resources. Selection is based on

  • users’ needs
  • curriculum requirements
  • recommendations from sources such as OZTL_NET; LM_NET and other professional networks
  • lists of recognised children’s literary awards
  • requirements of specific activities such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge
  • personal appraisal
  • teachers’ expertise in subject specialisation, student needs and current pedagogical practice
  • student requests, ideas and comments
  • reviews in reputable professional journals, publications and blogs such as



Young Adult Reader Reviews – Australia

Viewpoint: on books for young adults

Inside a Dog

Literature Base

Fiction Focus

Just So Stories

Aussie Review

Splatt reviews

The Source (subscription)

Classroom Resource Reviews (then go to Quick links menu and click CRR)

CBCA Reading Time journal (subscription)

The Bottom Shelf, The Book Chook, Children’s Book Daily, A Book and A Hug

Where practical and possible, relevance and suitability of resources should be reviewed before purchase using a variety of authoritative sources.

general principles
These principles should guide the evaluation and selection of materials

  • Is this the best format for this information or story in this situation?
  • Will this resource be used by staff and/or students?
  • Does it meet the requirements of system and school selection criteria?
  • Is this the best possible choice for the money being spent?
  • Is there a reputable review or other independent selection aid to support the decision?
  • Is it possible to preview the resource before selection?

 general criteria

Regardless of format, resources will

  • match users’ needs, interests and abilities
  • foster growth in factual knowledge, literary, aesthetic and cultural appreciation; moral and ethical values and which will aid in daily and future decision-making
  • be at appropriate levels for resource-based and student-centred learning
  • be at appropriate levels to meet students’ personal and recreational reading needs
  • support new curriculum and interest areas and teachers’ professional learning
  • be legally acquired and meet copyright legislation, including digital rights management
  • be attractive and appealing, sturdy, durable, easily maintained and stored
  • provide optimum value in terms of curriculum relevance, accuracy, authority, reliability, currency and accessibility
  • be selected according to the principles of intellectual freedom and provide students with access to information that represents diverse points of view
  • encompass a variety of media and information formats to suit varied learning purposes and styles, including:
      • print resources  such as books (reference, fiction non-fiction), periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, ephemera.
      • graphic resources  such as charts, posters, pictures, maps
      • models, realia, kits.
      • audio-visual resources such as DVDs, CDs, videos and audio books
      • electronic resources such as computer software
      • digital resources such as Internet sites, databases, indexes, Web 2.0 technologies, interactive learning objects, ebooks and resources from digital repositories such as the National Digital Learning Resources Network
      • appropriate equipment and technologies exist to access non-print resources
  • assist staff in their teaching roles and enhance professional learning by
      • modelling best practice.
      • providing or suggesting a variety of teaching strategies and teaching aids.
      • reflecting current trends in curriculum development
      • consider students with particular needs, taking into account race, ethnic group, culture, gender, socioeconomic group, physical and intellectual capacity

Senior Fiction resources will be selected based on the suitability and merits of each resource.  They will adhere to the general criteria but particular attention will be paid to

  • the overall theme of the book and its suitability for a 12-13 year old reader regardless of their reading ability
  • the portrayal of sexual exploration and encounters
  • the level of violence
  • the use of language, particularly profanity

The use of selection aids, particularly consulting teacher librarians with students of a similar age and demographic, will be required so that any challenge can be defended on a knowledgeable basis. All Senior Fiction print resources will be clearly labelled with a Senior Fiction sticker and digital resources will be subject to the appropriate filters. The teacher librarian will exercise his/her  professional knowledge about the development and maturation of the students, their reading needs, interests and abilities, the curriculum the collection is required to support, the underlying ethos of the school and its community and collection development practices and apply these in relation to the duty of care invested in him/her.

Regardless of format, all resources will demonstrate

  • Authority      
    • qualified and/or experienced author where appropriate to the subject
    • honest and ethical use of information, storylines or other materials
    • reference list or bibliography where appropriate
    • reputable sources of information
    • recognised publisher/producer although this does not exclude new publishers whose resources meet other criteria
    • in the case of online resources, authority of the author or the site’s owner is apparent
    • privacy and legal issues are clearly addressed and are in accordance with Australian legislation
  •  Physical Format
    • the most suitable medium to present the subject matter
    • access for as many students as practicable at one time
    • consideration for availability, purchase price and maintenance of appropriate hardware
    • sturdy construction which is durable, suitable for multiple usage and easily maintained
    • packaged for easy use and storage under normal conditions
  •  Technical Quality
    • in a format compatible with existing hardware or that intended for purchase
    • attractive and appealing presentation
    • well designed with the needs of the intended user in mind
    • illustrations are suitable for both content and audience
    • illustrations support the content and are consistent with the text
    • illustrations are in an appropriate medium
    • quality reproduction of graphics, sound, video as appropriate
  •  Content
    • relevance to curriculum
    • themes, topics and characters relevant to students
    • enrichment of students’ personal growth and understanding
    • sensitive treatment of controversial topics
    • freedom from stereotyping
    • author addresses audience without condescension
    • a style readable by and suitable for the needs and abilities of students
    • vocabulary and sentence structure suited to topic and audience
    • it meets the stated or implied purpose
    • it does not require students to divulge personal information to access it
    • it does not harvest information about students nor seeks to own the intellectual property or copyright of their work
  • Arrangement of Material
    • content is easily accessible and navigable
    • well designed with contents, index, glossary as appropriate
    • clear chapter headings and pagination as appropriate
    • clear, logical and sequential presentation of information
    • diagrams and other graphics are appropriate and close to the related text
    • references to supporting material is appropriate
    • in the case of online resources, embedded links work and lead to relevant and appropriate information
    • instructions and support materials are clear, comprehensive and effective.
  • Appropriateness
    • concepts, content, language, illustrations, and symbols are suitable for the intended user
    • surrounding material, such as advertisements, is appropriate for the intended audience of the resource
    • the harvesting and/or storage of information is in compliance with the current Australian Privacy Principles
  • Currency
    • information is up-to-date and where possible and appropriate, is no more than ten years old, although for topics such as ICT, space exploration and some sciences, this should be reduced to three years. (See Deselection of Resources)
    • in the case of online resources, date of creation and latest update are stated
    • priority will be given to those which are updated regularly
  • Cost
    • value for money.
    • application across a number of curriculum areas and levels
    • greatest access for least cost
    • acquisition complies with copyright legislation
    • acquisition does not require students to divulge personal information
    • costs of contracts or subscriptions are fully understood and agreed to with no hidden extras that are essential to the effective use of the resource
    • preference will be given to those resources available freely through the National Digital Learning Resources Network; Open Education Resources; a NEALS licence or an appropriate Creative Commons licence
    • should a free commercial resource be considered, any elements of bias must be evaluated as well as the terms and conditions of use, the collection of private information, and the content of any accompanying advertising or embedded links
  •  Availability
    • currently, readily and legally available to schools
    • unavailable resources (defined by copyright sources as ‘not available within 30 days at a reasonable cost) may be requested from other sources, provided that sources is lega
    • format shifting of resources, such as from video tape to DVD, will only be done in compliance with the copyright licences covering schools and only if a legal copy is not available for purchase
  •  Accessibility
    • consideration for availability, purchase price and maintenance of appropriate services to provide access to content such as a digital distribution service like Overdrive to deliver ebooks
    • consideration for availability, purchase price and maintenance of appropriate hardware such as tablets to access apps
    • consideration for availability, purchase price and maintenance of appropriate software to provide access to content such as Adobe Digital editions
    • consideration of the legal, ethical and logistical use of students’ own technology to access online resources
  • Copyright Compliance

cross-curriculum priorities

The Australian National Curriculum English strand identifies that the collection provides access to resources which support historical, social and cultural contexts, especially those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Asia, multicultural literature from beyond Asia, and sustainability.  These focal points have specific selection criteria that must be considered, as identified by McDonald, L. (2013) A Literature Companion for Teachers. Sydney: Primary English Teachers Association Australia

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples


    • Does the text have an endorsement from an appropriate group or name the country of the writer and illustrator?

People/culture: status/power

    • Who has authority and knowledge?
    • Who can speak/act on problems in the text?
    • Does this occur in ways appropriate to indigenous culture?

Country/place/culture: context

    • Are indigenous social structures/family networks recognised?
    • Is there an understanding and respect for the complexity of indigenous knowledge and belief systems?

Culture/people/place: language

    • Is Standard English privileged? Is Aboriginal English of Language included? (pp122-123)


  • Asia-Australia-European engagement

Representation of diversity

Is the history of the cultural group evident? Is the reader informed about the life of people in their home country?

What immigrant experiences are presented and what is valued here?

Achievements and contribution

Who holds powerful positions/solves problems?

What types of roles do the characters have?

Engagement with Australia

    • Is the writer of the culture or outside the culture?
    • What models of culture does the text reflect: assimilation, integration and/or inclusiveness?
    • Are there changing perspectives between first/second/third generations?

Engagement with language

    • Are characteristics in two groups: those who speak Standard English and those who do not?
    • Does the actual language of the culture appear accurately?
    • Are negative epithets used such as: lazy, inscrutable, primitive, backward? (pp129-130)


  • Environmental systems, world views and futures

Sustainable systems

  • What kind of ‘place’ is presented – marine, desert, rainforest, urban, cultivated, natural
  • Are living things (human and non-human) shown as interdependent and contributing to the whole environment
  • What is valued and believed about the place and/or the ecosystem presented
  • Does the plot involve endangered or loss of species or an environmental catastrophe? How is this demonstrated? What values and attitudes are presented?

World views on sustainability

  • How do the characters engage with the environment? Do they control the environment, live in sustainable harmony with it, or ignore it?
  • Are there ethical dilemmas raised?
  • Are non-Western or indigenous ways of engaging with the environment shown?

Sustainable futures

  • What threats to the environment are shown – climate change, human greed or apathy, toxic waste, non-native species, pollution and development?
  • Does the text advocate human responsibility for the environment? Do characteristics model sustainable practices as individuals, as a community?
  • What models of advocacy are presented for readers to take up? (p135)


specific selection criteria

Each format has its own selection criteria and these are detailed in Appendix A


development of a digital collection

The collection must meet the needs, interests and abilities of its users including their preference for print or digital formats. For the collection to be inclusive it cannot be an either/or situation. The following issues need to be considered before a decision to acquire a resource or collection of resources is made…

  1. What is the best format for this information or title in the situation it is most likely to be used?
  2. Is the resource duplicating, complementing, supplementing, replacing, extending, or substituting for a currently-held resource in another format?
  3. Should selection be made on a device-specific, supplier-specific or content-learning basis?
  4. Will staff and student options be limited by restricting selection to one or the other?
  5. If there is a bulk purchase of a subscription by one supplier made by the education authority, does this limit the options to accessing resources from other suppliers where appropriate?
  6. If there is a bulk purchase, what input to collection development will the teacher librarian have?
  7. If selection is made on a content- learning basis, how will it contribute to implementing the SAMR model of teaching and learning?
  8. Who will own the device required to access the digital content?
  9. Will students be expected to provide their own device?  If so, how will multiple platforms be managed?
  10. If students are unable to supply their own device (either short or long-term) how will their access to the resources be managed?
  11. Who will own the content?  Is access to purchased content lost if a subscription to a supplier is discontinued? Will it remain accessible via a new supplier’s platform?
  12. How will adding new content/ updates to devices be managed on the school level? On an individual level?
  13. How will new content/subscription be paid for? Will it form part of disbursements from the library’s budget?
  14. In the case of required texts, will students be expected to purchase and upload these to their own devices privately and at their own expense?
  15. Who are the most relevant publishers for the various sections of the collection?
  16. Are bundling options economical?  Are all the included resources relevant to the needs of these students?  Are they freely available elsewhere?
  17. Can the resource be read offline?
  18. Will licences be 1:1 (one resource accessible to one user at a time) or 1:many (many can access the resource at the same time)?
  19. How will licences, registrations, logins and loan restrictions be managed?
  20. How will student privacy be protected in line with the Australian Privacy Principles?
  21. How will access to the resources be made available so clients can find it easily?
  22. What level of curation of digital resources, such as the development of Learning Paths via Scootle, will be implemented and who will be responsible for this?
  23. Are there any access issues (such as age of the user) imposed on the resource by the provider? How will access to resources be restricted if required?
  24. How will restrictions imposed by publishers (such as the number of times a resources can be circulated) be managed and who will manage them?
  25. How will the staff and students know that new resources are available without a physical product to view?



This section should identify the need for a budget and its scope; authority for purchasing; priorities; gifts and donations; and accountability measures.

In accordance with school policy the teacher librarian will submit a proposed budget based on identified priorities to Executive when required so those who make the allocation are properly informed of the library’s requirements This budget will include

  • purchase of library-based resources in all formats
  • subscriptions to online services and software licences
  • funding for special events,
  • the day-to-day running of the library. 
  • the evidence the budget proposals are based on so those providing approval and allocations are well-informed of needs and how priorities have been determined

It will not include the purchase or maintenance of hardware such as interactive whiteboards, laptops, computers, tablets and so forth. While the budget will be based on an evaluation of the collection and the input from other staff members, this does not mean that there will be an equal expenditure across all faculties, curriculum areas or resource formats.  Expenditure will be based on priorities identified within this policy, within the library’s strategic plan and in consultation with specific stakeholders.

While the teacher librarian may delegate the spending of a portion of the budget to another person following consultation with that person, the teacher librarian will have the final authority for the disbursement of the budget. No person may disburse library monies without the approval of the teacher librarian, and if this approval is given a note will be made in the budget records.

Collection and disbursement of monies raised through events such as book fairs, book swaps and other special events will be in alignment with school and departmental policies and procedures. In accordance with school and departmental policies, the teacher librarian will submit a Statement of Expenditure each year when required to both the principal and the school board. Should a significant expenditure be made that would be of interest to the school community, then this will be shared through the school’s newsletter and other communication channels.

Gifts and donations will be accepted.  However they must need the general and specific selection criteria before being included in the collection. Grants for specific items may be sought from the P. & C. but sponsorship, commercial or private, will be in line with school and departmental policies and procedures.

Reimbursement of the cost of resources will be sought if items are lost or damaged beyond reasonable repair.  Cost recovery will be at the discretion of the teacher librarian and made after the investigation of the circumstances.



Acquisition refers to what is owned as well as what is provided access to and how this will be managed. This section should include who has authority to purchase/acquire; criteria for selection of suppliers; preference for local/national/online suppliers; preference for free, paid or subscription-based services; and the outsourcing of the collection or its processing

Resources will be acquired in alignment with school and departmental financial guidelines and procedures, including those purchased online. While staff may make recommendations for purchases for the library’s collection, the teacher librarian will have ultimate responsibility for acquisitions so selection criteria were met and unnecessary duplication avoided. Suppliers will need to meet the criteria identified in the Procedures Manual including

  • quality and reliability of service
  • preview practices and returns policies
  • value for money
  • payment options,
  • delivery costs
  • speed of delivery

Where possible, local suppliers will be used but if others, including those online, provide better service they will be used. Suppliers’ service and terms and conditions relating to this will be reviewed regularly.

The merit of a particular resource based on its adherence to the selection criteria will outweigh a preference for free, paid or subscription-based costs. The selection criteria indicate these preferences. However, if purchased, the resource must provide value for money. If it is free, the selection criteria must be considered.

Out-sourcing of the development of the collection to suppliers such as Australian Standing Orders may be considered but is not the preferred option. Cost comparisons, previewing of titles for suitability and the ability to return unwanted items will be critical criteria to be considered.

Out-sourcing physical processing of resources will not be considered during the life of this policy.

While the cost of an item may be a determining factor, adherence to the selection criteria and the value of the resource in supporting teaching and learning will be considered when deciding whether a resource should be purchased or acquired for free.  However, preference will be given to those resources available freely through the National Digital Learning Resources Network; Open Education Resources; a NEALS licence or an appropriate Creative Commons licence.

Should the teacher librarian be in a position to make an on-the-spot purchase of a resource which is known to be of value to the collection and in keeping with the selection criteria, this may be done but reimbursement of any expenditure will be in alignment with school and departmental policies. Staff cannot assume that any such purchases that they make will be automatically reimbursed from the library’s budget.



Resources are acquired so they are used to support, enrich and enhance teaching and learning.  Therefore staff and students must know of their availability. Including promotion in the policy provides formal validation of the processes used.

Newly-acquired resources will be promoted for use through a variety of means.

  • All resources will be added to the catalog so their existence and availability is discoverable through a number of likely search terms.
  • Instructions for accessing online resources will be made available to staff and students bearing in mind the need for security and privacy,
  • Appropriate social media will be used including (insert those used by the school including access details)
  • Displays will be an important part of the library environment.
  • Staff and students will be invited to participate in the promotion of resources


collection evaluation

Collection evaluation must be ongoing but a timeframe is required to ensure the whole collection is evaluated within the life of the policy.

Collection evaluation must focus on the readers rather than the resources. In order to ensure that the collection remains appealing, effective and relevant to its users, it needs to be continually evaluated using criteria such as

  • its correlation to educational policies, pedagogical practices and curriculum requirements
  • its correlation to the needs, abilities and interests of the users
  • its correlation to the beliefs and values of the school community
  • its correlation to suggested lists of resources accompanying curriculum strands, Premier’s Reading Challenge and other school-specific requirements
  • the need to provide current and authoritative resources in a variety of formats
  • its adherence to current selection procedures and criteria
  • the age and condition of resources
  • the integration of digital technologies
  • available space and budget
  • the number of resources is sufficient to meet the demand of the users
  • the range of formats supports teaching and learning and is in relation to users’ demands, requirements and expectations
  • ensuring it provides a range of perspectives without bias towards one particular viewpoint
  • collection development has been in alignment with the current Collection Policy and the library’s strategic plan
  • informing future policy development

The methods used to evaluate the suitability of items in the collection will include

  • comparison with the philosophy, objectives and nature of the school
  • the interests and needs of the students
  • collection mapping
  • curriculum auditing
  • analysis of usage patterns and user surveys
  • comparison with current selection criteria
  • comparison with published lists such as the Education Lending Rights survey or reading lists such as the Chief Minister’s Reading Challenge, CBCA shortlists and notable books list
  • other methods as appropriate

Curriculum mapping will be carried out to determine which areas of the curriculum need a greater emphasis to augment, renew or update existing resources.  This will be done on a rotational basis so each curriculum area is evaluated regularly, at least once during the life of this Collection Policy. Should there be new curriculum initiatives introduced and implemented, curriculum mapping to meet new needs will become a priority.


deselection of resources

Because this can be a contentious issue  a statement about the purpose of deselection and the authority for undertaking it must be established as well as clear criteria.

De-selection of resources –the systematic and deliberate removal of unwanted items from the collection to ensure it remains current and relevant for its users—will be formally done during the mandatory annual stocktake, although it will also be an informal process undertaken throughout the year as needs arise.   The final decision for de-selection remains with the teacher librarian based on her professional knowledge of the needs, interests and abilities of the collection’s users, both staff and students.  This includes considering

  • regardless of age, retaining resources that are known to appeal to particular age groups such as the collection about dinosaurs for Kindergarten so their perceptions about the value of the library are developed and their expectations met
  • regardless of age, retaining fiction titles such as the Harry Potter series which have enduring appeal and use; works by authors whose appeal and popularity has been established and continues; and works which continue to support the curriculum such as historical fiction
  • students’ access to ICT within and beyond the school so there is anytime, anywhere access to information if required
  • students’ preferences for print resources over other formats, as well as the need, identified by current research, to develop literacy skills using traditional formats so that onscreen skills are enhanced
  • the provision of resources that will enable users to have a range to cross-check information for authority, accuracy, currency, objectivity and relevance

De-selection will be considered for items which

  • are dirty or damaged beyond reasonable repair   
  • are in a format no longer supported by available hardware
  • have information which is inaccurate, out-of-date, biased, racist, sexist or misleading
  •  contain racial, sexual or cultural stereotyping
  • are unappealing in appearance or format
  • are inappropriate or irrelevant to the needs, abilities and interests of the library’s users
  • have significantly declined in circulation and unlikely to be popular or required again
  • have been superseded by newer editions that have greater aesthetic appeal
  • are unused duplicate copies

Digital resources will be deselected if

  • they meet any of the appropriate criteria above
  • links are no longer live
  • have altered terms and conditions of use which are unacceptable
  • have accompanying advertisements or other material which is inappropriate
  • have embedded links which led to inappropriate sites
  • no longer comply with copyright
  • they are no longer deemed suitable for the use of students

In order to ensure the collection is up-to-date the following should be used as a guide to replacement times.

Dewey Classification Timeframe Type of Resource Timeframe
000 2-10 years Biographies flexible
100 5 -10 years Fiction individual basis
200 5-10 years Encyclopaedias 3 -5 years
300 2-10 years Reference individual basis
400 10 years Periodicals 3 -5 years
500 2-10 years Almanacs 3 years
600 2-10 years Ebooks Based on licence and hardware availability
700 5-20 years Audiobooks Based on licence and hardware availability
800 flexible Digital resources Based on licence, hardware availability and software compatibility
900 5-10 years Teacher Resources Based on curriculum currency and compatibility
    Maps, charts,posters, ephemera Individual basis

These criteria are to be used as a guide rather than a rigid set of rules. Consideration will also be given to keeping

  • classics, award winners, and titles likely to be in demand again such as the Harry Potter series
  • local history resources
  • school publications for archival purposes
  • titles on current reading lists
  • out of print titles that are still useful
  • biographical resources relating to prominent local, national and international figures
  • resources which might be of historical interest or for comparison at a later time

Culled resources will be written off in accordance with approved procedures, including amending the record in the library’s management system.  They will then be disposed of appropriately according to their reason for culling.  Most materials unsuitable for the school library are likely to be unsuitable for other libraries so careful consideration needs to be given to their final destination. 

Resources will be marked in such a way that it is clear they are no longer required, including defacing barcodes.

The sale of unwanted titles will to be within the guidelines of the educational authority’s financial procedures.


challenged materials

A policy relating to Challenged Materials – both print and digital – is an essential element of the Collection Policy.  Having it as an appendix makes it more manageable.

Challenged materials will be dealt with in accordance with the Challenged Materials Policy. See Appendix B


policy review

Policies should only have a life of about three years so there is time to introduce, implement and evaluate its goals and then look to the next phase of development. 

This policy will be reviewed and revised every three years to ensure it continues to support the ethos and objectives of both the library and the school.

appendix a

specific selection criteria

Specific selection criteria for non fiction including encyclopedias, yearbooks, almanacs, dictionaries, thesauri, anthologies, atlases, handbooks, pamphlets, periodicals, journals and information books includes consideration of


  • fulfil the purpose of the item (quick reference, browsing or extensive research).
  • support and enrich the curriculum


  • text and print size appropriate to the intended reader.
  • style of writing appropriate to the purpose or intention of the author.
  • text is smooth to read, clear and concise, interesting and non-repetitive.
  • language used reflects the intended use of the item.
  • reading level of the item matches the user’s experience and capability

Interest Level

  • matches the readability of the text and the interest levels of students.


  • information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • vital facts are not omitted or over-simplified


  • topic covered adequately -in-depth, detailed account or a general overview, as appropriate.
  • approach/development of concepts suited to intended users.

Curriculum Relevance

  • supports school, state and national curricula

Organisation of Information

  • clear and functional.
  • contains index, table of contents, glossary, bibliography, as appropriate.
  • clearly defined chapters/sections.

Page Layout

  • headings/sub-headings clearly defined.
  • text well spaced and organised into paragraphs.
  • background colour/borders/illustrations do not interfere with the readability of the text.
  • adequate use of white space.


  • avoids stereotypes in text or illustrations.
  • avoids biased opinions/value judgements.
  • reflects gender equity principles of social justice (includes race, sex, physical and intellectual disability, cultural grouping).
  • relevant to Australian conditions, as appropriate.


  • support or extend the information base of the text.
  • may include diagrams, maps, graphs, photographs, drawings, paintings, tables.
  • positioned relevant to the text.
  • clear, attractive and/or interesting.
  • labelled/captioned effectively/accurately.

Specific selection criteria for fiction including picture books, beginning readers, early chapter books, graphic novels and novels includes consideration of Purpose

  • provides entertainment and enjoyment
  • stimulates the imagination
  • develops language
  • extends the student’s experiences
  • helps the student become an independent, critical reader
  • supports the curriculum
  • encourages reading as a life-long leisure activity
  • may be used to support non-fiction curriculum areas


  • text and print size are appropriate to the intended reader
  • text is smooth to read, clear and concise
  • reading level of the item matches the user’s experience and capability


  • appropriate to the plot, theme and characters
  • imaginative and interesting with natural dialogue and vivid descriptions
  • concepts developed by the plot are appropriate for the age/ maturity of the intended reader
  • style of writing is appropriate to the genre
  • provides the opportunity for students to practise / develop/ extend literacy skills


  • stimulates the reader’s imagination
  • encourages an awareness of issues
  • is interesting and entertaining
  • sequence of events is logical and credible
  • factual elements are accurate
  • avoids biased opinions / value judgements unless these are an integral part of the story
  • reflects gender equity principles of social justice including race, sex, physical and intellectual disability and cultural grouping unless these are an integral part of the story
  • relevant to Australian issues where appropriate


  • easily identified
  • resolution of conflict within acceptable moral codes and behavioural modes
  • appropriate to the age group without gratuitous sex or violence or swearing
  • avoids moralising or didacticism unless this is the intent of the author


  • convincing and credible
  • characters use natural and suitable dialogue
  • characters develop and grow
  • avoids stereotyping by gender, race, disability or culture

Presentation/ Layout

  • content well spaced and logically organised
  • supports left-to-right directionality
  • background colour / borders/ illustrations do not interfere with readability of the text


  • appropriately placed and positioned
  • clear, attractive, and interesting
  • enhance and enrich elements of the story
  • enhance readability of the text
  • appropriate to the reading interest / maturity level of the reader
  • avoid stereotypes

Sensitive issues

  • awareness that language may be unacceptable to some members of the school community
  • awareness that issues such as sex, violence, drugs, AIDS, death, religion and the supernatural may be unacceptable to some members of the school community

Senior Fiction Consideration must be given to the following questions…

  • Who is the author’s intended audience?
  • Are there main characters who are close to the age of the students?
  • In the case of contemporary realistic fiction, is this a theme that reflects the life of the students?
  • Is it a theme that is appropriate for this age group?
  • Are they likely to understand and appreciate the underlying concepts, relationships, humour and nuances?
  • Would they get more from it if they read it when they were more mature?
  • Why are students requesting this? Is that a valid reason to consider/purchase it?
  • How will this novel enrich my students’ lives in a way that others do not? 
  • If this were a movie would it receive a G or PG rating?
  • Is the language appropriate for this age group?
  • If my 10-14 year old brought this home, would I be happy with their choice?
  • Is this the best investment for this money?

Specific selection criteria for non-book resources including CDs and MP3 formats, charts, computer software/CD-ROMs, games, realia/models, slides, DVDs and apps for tablets include consideration of all the above criteria as well as criteria specific to their format. Audio formats

  • sound clarity.
  • clear pronunciation and enunciation.
  • reading is well paced.
  • background music/sound effects appropriate and don’t interfere with main reading.
  • abridged or full-text version as appropriate.
  • story reading or dramatised version.
  • length appropriate for intended user.
  • accompanying teachers’ notes – appropriate, useful and relevant.

Charts – including maps, diagrams, pictures, posters, friezes, study prints.

  • clear and logical layout.
  • information and graphics are uncluttered.
  • overall size and print size appropriate for intended use.
  • attractively presented to generate interest.
  • simplify information and summarise key concepts.
  • support a specific educational purpose.


  • support an educational purpose.
  • safety aspects eg. size of pieces, sharp edges.
  • packaging/storage to facilitate long-term use.
  • durability of game pieces.
  • accompanying instructions clear and appropriate for the intended user.
  • attractive, interesting, stimulating and fun.


  • support an educational purpose.
  • durable construction.
  • size/weight appropriate for intended use.
  • attractive and interesting.
  • easy to use.


  • clarity of sound and images.
  • visually appealing.
  • voice production
  • clear and suited for intended purpose and user.
  • accuracy and currency of visual information.
  • content appropriate for intended user.
  • variety in presentation.
  • production well paced.
  • length appropriate for the intended user.
  • G or PG rating only and permission for the latter is gained under departmental guidelines

Online and Electronic Resources

  • copyright compliant
  • acceptable terms and conditions of use
  • appropriate to the age of the user and comply with G or PG guidelines
  • comply with age restrictions for membership (awareness of requirement for 13+)
  • comply with education authority guidelines and are legally accessed
  • accompanying advertisements or links are appropriate with preference given to those that are designed for students use through an education plan even if these are subscription-based
  • provide learner control through flexible pacing, variable difficulty, and optimal branching and linking
  • information is accurate, and reliably and regularly maintained
  • organisation, searching capabilities and navigation tools enhance information retrieval
  • provide record keeping and management options if applicable
  • provide readable text, attractive graphics and an appealing layout
  • easy-to-understand, comprehensive documentation
  • has top quality technical production including clear and well-crafted audio and visual
  • user friendly
  • compatibility with school’s computer network
  • site license costs are not prohibitive

appendix b

challenged materials


In accordance with our Mission Statement and the Australian School Library Association’s Bill of Rights, we have a responsibility to provide opportunities and resources which reflect a wide variety of perspectives which will encourage critical thinking and help our students make informed decisions. Therefore, at times, students may be exposed to materials which  present information, ideas  or attitudes which some members of the school community may consider to be controversial,  inappropriate or offensive. Objections to these resources are an important part of the democratic process and should be treated as legitimate avenues of communication in education.  However, challenges must be considered on the understanding that no parents or carers have the right to determine the suitability of learning or recreational matter for students other than their own.


To facilitate the hearing of potential objections and to guide appropriate action, there is a Challenged Materials policy and procedure which enables different points of view to be clearly and openly expressed while preserving the principles of intellectual freedom and the professional responsibility and integrity of the school. This procedure is based on the recommendations of the ACT School Library Services and includes

  • providing the complainant with a letter outlining the procedure, requesting their completion of the formal Request for Reconsideration of Resources form which should be attached and explaining that, in general, they can only question the suitability of materials in relation to their own child, although the Review Committee will have the ability to consider the breadth of application of their final decision.
  • formal documentation of the request for reconsideration
  • establishment of a Review Committee which comprises the teacher-librarian, two staff members including a representative of the relevant curriculum committee and two parent representatives, including a member of the School Board.
  • independent review of the challenged resource by the Review Committee in line with our Collection Development Policy and selection criteria
  • a meeting of the Review Committee to which the complainant may be invited to decide the appropriate course of action
  • notification of the result of the review to the complainant
  • supply of our Collection Development Policy and selection criteria if the complainant is not satisfied
  • the right of the complainant to refer the matter to the School Board for further consideration

Should a parent or community member approach a staff member with concerns about a print resource, the complainant should be referred to the teacher-librarian who will explain the procedure and offer them a form to complete which deals with the re-consideration of materials. A promise to remove or restrict the resource should not be made —that decision will be made by the Review Committee which the staff member will be invited to join if applicable.

Should an issue with an online resource be brought to the attention of any staff member, the teacher librarian needs to be contacted immediately and made aware of the objection. This need not be in writing in the first instance, but written advice of the source and the issue is required using the appropriate form as soon as is practicable.  If, in the opinion of the teacher librarian, the issue is apparent (such as inappropriate advertising, embedded links or the potential to harvest students’ private information) and thus requires immediate action, all steps will be taken to have the offending website removed from the collection as soon as possible. 

If, however, the complaint is of a more general nature, then the appropriate process will be followed.

request for reconsideration of library resources

All requests must be accompanied by this form.



ALA has also developed a resource Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries

Developed by

Barbara Braxton

Teacher Librarian

M.Ed (TL); M.App.Sci (TL); M.I.S. (Children’s Services)

Dromkeen Librarian’s Awards 2003

Cooma NSW 2630 


Last Update: February 7, 2018


This entry was posted on September 16, 2013, in . 15 Comments

the gardener’s hat

Wearing my volunteer’s hat, I am currently helping a colleague at a local school evaluate the collection and weeding all its sections in preparation for a major refurbishment later this year. At the moment all the shelves are cram-jammed full of books, many of which haven’t really seen the light of day since they were first placed there!  (You can tell because they are obviously unopened, are yellowing, have unused date due slips, have an “old book’ smell about them, in many cases a publication date of more than 20 years ago and it takes strong fingers to prise them from their neighbours.)


Unlike a lot of teacher librarians, I have no problems disposing of books and, working on the philosophy that if they are not good enough for our students then they’re not good enough for others – a view shared by my colleague – the recycling hopper is gradually being fed. 

But many have an emotional connection to books in print and find it difficult to throw them away, particularly if they are still in a reasonable condition.  It is almost like it is sacrilegious for a librarian to do such a thing.  Yet, we are quite happy to dispose of food that is past its use-by date, discard clothing that is no longer a good fit and even dig up plants that are growing in the wrong place in the garden in the name of “weeding”.

Not being prepared to put on our gardener’s hat is doing our clientele a disservice for unless we regularly appraise and evaluate the collection, the shelves just become more and more tightly packed, giving easy access to nothing rather than everything.  While non fiction seems to get a regular workover because information changes and we can’t expose our students to that which is out-of-date, how often do we turn our attention to our fiction collections – both novels and picture books? Many of the novels I’ve culled in the last few days were on the shelves when I first began my TL career 23 years ago; some were even around when I began my teaching career 47 years ago!  A quick check of the item’s record showed that if something had been borrowed at all, then it was done back in the 90s, so clearly there was unlikely to be a revival of its popularity.  Added to that, children’s reading habits and expectations have changed – now they prefer characters who represent their generation and at the very least, expect them to have access to the internet and a mobile phone (unless it is genuine historical fiction). Life has changed significantly in the last 30 years since the introduction of the World Wide Web and young readers expect this to be reflected in their reading materials.

Picture books are different, particularly those written for a young audience, because the themes of those are usually timeless, although there is a growing trend amongst authors to embed a message of either social or environmental significance within the plot, and so it is the battered and bruised of that format that generally find their way to the compost, hopefully with a newer brighter version of the most popular stories being planted in their stead.

Teachers’ resources seem particularly problematic because there are some who cling to old favourites of yesteryear despite the changes in best-practice pedagogy and curriculum.  However, when I was asked to tackle that section, I found it easiest to pull what was no longer current or relevant and place them on a table in the staffroom with a large notice saying “Help Yourself”. Those teachers who wanted their favourites could now have them permanently; that which was left filled the recycling bin!

Apart from teacher librarians having issues with disposing of materials, it also seems to be very wasteful to the non-professional eye and many have problems convincing principals, peers and parents that we have a duty to ensure that the collection meets the current needs, interests, expectations and abilities of our clientele.  To help combat this I have written Taking Stock which examines the need to undertake a regular inventory of the collection, and encouraging those who think it’s just an annual “counting of the books” to understand and share the underlying purposes and processes.

The Collection Policy should also address the deselection of resources in detail and the following is taken from the Sample Collection Policy I have written after many years of experience marking university assignments on this topic.   

De-selection of resources –the systematic and deliberate removal of unwanted items from the collection to ensure it remains current and relevant for its users—will be formally done during the mandatory annual stocktake, although it will also be an informal process undertaken throughout the year as needs arise.   The final decision for de-selection remains with the teacher librarian based on her professional knowledge of the needs, interests and abilities of the collection’s users, both staff and students.  This includes considering

  • regardless of age, retaining resources that are known to appeal to particular age groups such as the collection about dinosaurs for Kindergarten so their perceptions about the value of the library are developed and their expectations met
  • regardless of age, retaining fiction titles such as the Harry Potter series which have enduring appeal and use; works by authors whose appeal and popularity has been established and continues; and works which continue to support the curriculum such as historical fiction
  • students’ access to ICT within and beyond the school so there is anytime, anywhere access to information if required
  • students’ preferences for print resources over other formats, as well as the need, identified by current research, to develop literacy skills using traditional formats so that onscreen skills are enhanced
  • the provision of resources that will enable users to have a range to cross-check information for authority, accuracy, currency, objectivity and relevance

De-selection will be considered for items which

  • are dirty or damaged beyond reasonable repair   
  • are in a format no longer supported by available hardware
  • have information which is inaccurate, out-of-date, biased, racist, sexist or misleading
  • contain racial, sexual or cultural stereotyping as a predominant feature of the plot or characterisation
  • are unappealing in appearance or format
  • are inappropriate or irrelevant to the needs, abilities and interests of the library’s users
  • have significantly declined in circulation and unlikely to be popular or required again
  • have been superseded by newer editions that have greater aesthetic appeal
  • are unused duplicate copies

Digital resources will be deselected if

  • they meet any of the appropriate criteria above
  • links are no longer live
  • have altered terms and conditions of use which are unacceptable
  • have accompanying advertisements or other material which is inappropriate
  • have embedded links which lead to inappropriate sites
  • no longer comply with copyright
  • they are no longer deemed suitable for the use of students

In order to ensure the collection is up-to-date the following should be used as a guide to replacement times.

Dewey Classification Timeframe Type of Resource Timeframe
000 2-10 years Biographies flexible
100 5 -10 years Fiction individual basis
200 5-10 years Encyclopaedias 3 -5 years
300 2-10 years Reference individual basis
400 10 years Periodicals 3 -5 years
500 2-10 years Almanacs 3 years
600 2-10 years Ebooks Based on licence and hardware availability
700 5-20 years Audiobooks Based on licence and hardware availability
800 flexible Digital resources Based on curriculum needs, licence, hardware availability and software compatibility
900 5-10 years Teacher Resources Based on curriculum currency and compatibility
Maps, charts,posters, ephemera Individual basis

These criteria are to be used as a guide rather than a rigid set of rules. Consideration will also be given to keeping

  • classics, award winners, and titles likely to be in demand again such as the Harry Potter series
  • local history resources
  • school publications for archival purposes
  • titles on current reading lists
  • out of print titles that are still useful
  • biographical resources relating to prominent local, national and international figures
  • resources which might be of historical interest or for comparison at a later time

Culled resources will be written off in accordance with approved procedures, including amending the record in the library’s management system.  They will then be disposed of appropriately according to their reason for culling.  Most materials unsuitable for the school library are likely to be unsuitable for other libraries so careful consideration needs to be given to their final destination. 

Resources will be marked in such a way that it is clear they are no longer required, including defacing barcodes.

The sale of unwanted titles will to be within the guidelines of the educational authority’s financial procedures.

Disposal of resources is always a touchy topic – there are many who will be offended that those I’m dealing with now (and have in the past) are heading for recycling.  There are regular questions on the various TL networks for names of organisations that will take and re-home weeded resources, sending them to not-so-fortunate communities, often overseas.  But the cost of storage and shipping of such donations are exorbitant in many cases, and one wonders if it wouldn’t be better to have an in-house sale so students and staff could own their favourites and then donate the proceeds to those organisations and communities.

There is also the proposition that they could be shared in community refuges or other places where children might not have access to books of their own, but one wonders what message this sends to those children.  Are they only worthy of some old, musty second-hand library book with a defaced barcode and a blacked-out school stamp? Or would they, too, be better served by having books bought with the cash from those who choose to buy such a book?

Weeding books will always be contentious and controversial as people have an emotional attachment to books for a range of reason, unlike their relationship with other objects.  But if we are to serve our clients properly, in accordance with our mission statement, the school’s philosophy and ethos, and that of professional associations which guide us in best practice, then as teacher librarians we need to step beyond the personal into the professional, put on our gardener’s hat and weed our gardens regularly. That is how the rest of the collection will thrive.

the technology hat

hat_technologyWhile it may seem like it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it is only 20 years since computers, LANs and Internet access started to be widespread in schools. At the time the teacher librarian was seen as the guru of all things ICT, their position and purpose in the school valued and unquestioned and the leadership hat fitted snugly.  Even though our duties seemed to be more about troubleshooting printer errors because of loose cables or empty cartridges, and our teaching was based on just-in-case skills rather than just-in-time learning, nevertheless ICT in those days was seen as the prerogative and priority of the teacher librarian.


But times have changed and the world has caught up with us. Storing files on floppy disks, CDs and USB sticks has almost gone; “Google” meaning “to search the Internet” has become part of the population’s  everyday vocabulary, and wifi has eliminated many of the cable issues.  Even the students have computers in their pockets these days; kindergarten students come to school well able to use their fingers to control a screen; and people ask “Why do you have a teacher librarian if you have the Internet?”  (We know the answer but are they ready to hear it?)


Perhaps it is time to reposition ourselves.

Many have but from messages to the networks to which I belong, it seems their role has become being the go-to person when someone wants a new app to accomplish something within their teaching or learning or they are the person who presents a range of must-use apps to staff who then find that the technology is driving their teaching rather than the other way round. Others have become the guardians of students’ digital footprints focusing on students’ online safety and well-being. Many are the suppliers and emergency chargers of devices as well as troubleshooting issues with them or the library is the place to print off that last-minute assignment. 

In worst-case scenarios, some schools have by-passed the TL leaving them to their perceived preference for print and hired ICT coaches and instructors who teach typing skills and how to format Word documents and so on, completely ignoring what Jamie McKenzie has been saying for 25 years about just-in-time rather than just-in-case.

All of these roles have a place in the school, but is it the most effective and efficient way of using our professional knowledge, understanding and skills?


The teacher librarian of 2016 has to be so much more than this. If we are to wear the technology hat well, we need to put the teacher part of teacher librarian to the fore.

It is our role to help our students enter, safely navigate and use the digital world both as information consumers and creators.  Little of what is online is offered for free (even if it appears so on the surface); is suitable for access and use by children (hence COPPA which restricts much to over-13s); or is without bias. Therefore we need to help them understand what it is they are looking for, be able to analyse, interpret and evaluate what they find to determine if it meets their needs at the time; manage what they gather so it is easily accessible and then use and communicate it efficiently and ethically.

We need to put on our curriculum leader’s hat and burrow down into school, state and national documents of syllabus and standards to identify where the use of technology will enrich and enhance the curriculum rather than drive it.  We have a critical role in both the design and the delivery of the curriculum.

Our designer role can be broad-based or specific.

If there is a formal Digital Technologies curriculum such as that released by ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) or a formal learning continuum of ICT capabilties  we need to know the knowledge and performance expectations of it and match those markers to other curricula so skills are taught in context and thus have meaning and value.

For example, under the Australian curriculum, students in Foundation – Year 2 begin “to learn about common digital systems and patterns that exist within data they collect. Students organise, manipulate and present this data, including numerical, categorical, text, image, audio and video data, in creative ways to create meaning.” This requires them to develop a range of understandings and skills including

  • recognising and exploring patterns in data and representing data as pictures, symbols and diagrams
  • collecting, exploring and sorting data, and using digital systems to present the data creatively
  • following, describing and representing a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems
  • creating and organising ideas and information using information systems independently and with others, and sharing these with known people in safe online environments

Digital Technologies Curriculum, V.8.1, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2016

Knowing this, we then need to know how these outcomes could be achieved through units of work identified in the English, History, Geography, Science and even Mathematics curricula through an inquiry-learning approach scaffolded by both the information literacy process and the outcomes of the ICT Capabilities Continuum.

Continuing with the Australian example. under the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum, Foundation students explore the two key questions…

  • Who am I, where do I live and who came before me?
  • Why are some places and events special and how do we know?

They explore both historical and geographical concepts by

  • posing questions about past and present objects, people, places and events
  • collecting  data and information from observations and identify information and data from sources provided
  • sorting and recording information and data, including location, in tables and on plans and labelled maps
  • sequencing familiar objects and events
  • exploring  a point of view
  • comparing objects from the past with those from the present and considering how places have changed over time
  • interpreting data and information displayed in pictures and texts and on maps
  • drawing simple conclusions based on discussions, observations and information displayed in pictures and texts and on maps
  • reflecting on learning to propose how to care for places and sites that are important or significant
  • presenting narratives, information and findings in oral, graphic and written forms using simple terms to denote the passing of time and to describe direction and location

Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum,  V.8.1, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2016 

By knowing how and which digital technologies can be used in both the consumption and creation of information to achieve these outcomes , we can add real value to the teaching and learning as well as demonstrating how outcomes from other curriculum documents can be covered at the same time.  In this example, there are clear correlations with the information literacy process,  the mathematics curriculum  and the English curriculum enabling integrated, meaningful delivery of the curriculum as well as killing more than one paperwork bird with the same stone.


Armed with this in-depth curriculum knowledge the teacher librarian can then collaborate with the classroom teacher to work out which responsibilities each will take on and then how the needs of the Digital Technologies curriculum can be met at the same time.  For example, it may be that while the classroom teacher teaches the students how to collect data, the TL might be responsible for showing them how to present it using an app such as MaxCount from Max’s Toolbox (an early childhood interface for Office) aka Scholastic Keys. Even if the classroom teacher does not teach alongside you and you run a parallel program, you can have the children collect different but unit-related data and use the software to present it.  This approach not only consolidates their understanding and skills but also enables them to transfer their knowledge to new situations – a true sign of mastery of the learning. At the same time, we are helping students to develop that deeper understanding of what it is to be a citizen of the digital world and demonstrating that we have a valuable teaching role in students’ learning rather than just being the resource provider.

If the teacher librarian’s role remains one that is more in isolation than collaboration and is more focused on the concept of “library skills”  then it is essential that we examine the information literacy process thoroughly and identify those aspects that are more likely to be done digitally now such as locating resources, highlighting keywords, making and organising notes, creating bibliographies, presenting products and so forth and develop our teaching around those. In essence we need to translate those skills that were once applied only to print into the digital environment. Show the students that using tools and apps can help them work smarter rather than harder but all the while pushing the message of cybersafety and protecting their digital footprint.

More broadly we need to know and promote the SAMR model. so the technology is deeply embedded into the teaching and learning, guiding teachers to set assignments that have rigour and relevance.

SAMR and Blooms Taxonomy

SAMR and Blooms Taxonomy

In this article  Alan November challenges us to consider whether we are technology rich but innovation poor by posing six questions about how technology is used in student assignments.Is it used as just a substitute for a writing tool or does it open up new worlds to explore by providing access to people, information and so forth that were not available in a wall-bound classroom?

Teaching the teachers is also a critical element of the TL’s role.  Alan November has written an article about what students don’t know about searching Google (their go-to source regardless of any alternatives we put before them) so as well as teaching the students, teach the teachers by offering to lead professional learning sessions on whatever aspects of information literacy in the digital world they need. However, there is nothing worse than sitting through stuff you already know so conduct a needs and skills audit.  Discover what teachers want to know and what they are capable of sharing and set up a mentoring model so specific needs are met.  Introduce new tools or apps that you know have immediate relevance and share examples of how they can be used so teachers can use the ideas as springboards.  Require they show and share what they have done as a result of their learning. Remember just in time is much more effective than just in case.  

Apart from giving them skills that they can pass on, it reinforces the importance of the TL in navigating the digital landscape.

Because the support of literacy and literature is also our core business, look for ways to use ICT to support students’ free voluntary reading (or even that which is mandatory) by 

  • providing books in a range of formats to support students’ needs and preferences understanding that the print-reading brain is different from the digital-reading one (which is elaborated here.)
  • sharing and creating (or getting them to create)  book trailers to encapsulate the essence of a book whether it be
    • a contender for an award,
    • popular reads and recommendations
    • for an author study so different titles can be compared and contrasted
    • to demonstrate the reader’s understanding of the story
    • any other reason
  • displaying QR codes that lead to reviews of the title, related resources or further information
  • creating a blog where students can share their reviews
  • creating an online book club that allows students to connect with others from other places 
  • promoting recommendations through an app like Padlet Backpack
  • providing links to authors’ and series’ websites where there are often extra activities and information
  • using Skype, Google Hangouts and similar software to connect with authors or students in other schools
  • using an online service such  Biblionasium, Goodreads or Shelfari for students to track and reflect on their reading
  • exploring how the International Children’s Digital Library could become part of what you offer particularly for providing reading resources for those for whom English is not their first language

We need to be operating in the same environment as our students and helping them to maximise the benefits of that environment, even if it does mean helping them to use Wikipedia effectively.  We cannot be resource snobs.

We also need to acknowledge the students’ preferences for learning and provide resources in a variety of different formats as well as the information and means to access these. However the provision of the collection must not be an either/or situation – apart from the growing body of research that clearly demonstrates students need to build a foundation of traditional literacy skills based on print, we need to ask ourselves which is the most effective and efficient way to access and disseminate the information within the resource.  

As well as being a leader in the design of the curriculum, the teacher librarian can also have a leadership role in its delivery.

If your school, district or education authority is implementing a blanket suite of tools such as Google Apps for Education undertake the professional learning so you become the go-to person to help other teachers learn how to use the tools and embed them in their teaching effectively. By demonstrating to individuals how the tool they are learning has immediate application in their teaching,  new skills are more likely to be applied and consolidated. Being known as a leader in the suite may also give you access to an individual teacher’s Google Classroom or blog or wiki where you can further support student learning 24/7 with resource suggestions, pertinent instructional videos such as the creation of a bibliography and so forth.

Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Education

Similarly, you could co-ordinate Parent Participation programs so parents can also learn what their children are using so they can assist them out of school hours when necessary. Reaching out to the community in this way goes a long way to overcoming the perception that the library is only about print. 

Making slideshows or videos that support student learning beyond the walls and hours of the library is an essential service.  My go-to model is always The Library Minute from Arizona State University. Even those these are for university students they encapsulate the idea of providing information and teaching support 24/7. If you’re short of time to make them yourself, ask the students what it is they most want/need to know so you can prioritise and then have them research, script and film the video or create the slideshow.

With new apps being released every day it is not feasible to suggest a list of what does what best but consider using the following formats to support students learning…

  • YouTube channel 
  • podcast
  • wiki
  • library website
  • pathfinders 
  • slideshows
  • blogs
  • QR codes
  • social networking 
  • mobile technology

As the information service manager we need to provide efficient access to resources that will support learning and the criteria for this should be incorporated in the Collection Policy including critical elements such as copyright compliance and acceptable terms and conditions of use which do not contravene Australian Privacy laws.  (In the Sample Collection Policy there is a list of 25 questions to consider as well as specific selection criteria in Appendix A.) As well as satisfying the overall criteria for accuracy, authority, currency, objectivity and relevance, the following chart could serve as a ready reference tool for selection.

S Suitability 

Does the information meet students’  needs?

Is it in language they  can understand?

Are there images to help their understanding?

M Manageability

Is it easy to navigate?

Is the information in chunks that I can manage?

Is the layout appealing?

A Accessibility

Can it be accessed on a mobile device?

Does it load quickly?

Do links take the user offsite to ‘dangerous waters”?

Are there bells and whistles and advertisements that might distract the user?

R Reliability

Does it meet the AACOR criteria of accuracy, authority, currency, objectivity, and relevance?

Are the publication details such as who is taking responsibility for the information readily apparent?

Is the platform stable so I can access it easily 24/7?

T Trustworthy

 Is the purpose of the website clearly apparent?

What information about me is being collected and what is done with that information?

Is there a third-party presence that I should be concerned about?


We can also supply print resources which support the upsurge in interest in coding as well as other other popular online apps such as gaming like Minecraft

Many primary and secondary school libraries are creating room for a makerspace where students learn to pose questions and solve problems through the the manipulation and creation of material objects which may include digital technologies. But that is another broad field for another post. 

As identified in the seer’s hat, the skills of the future will focus on problem posing and solving and digital technologies offer opportunities to do this way beyond what we can imagine.  Remember it is less than 10 years since Apple released its first iphone opening up a world that many can not live without.  Even though the technology hat is a large one with a very broad brim it is one we need to put on, adjust to fit and take ourselves, our colleagues and our students deep into the 21st century.


the procedures hat

hat_proceduresThis post is going to be a work-in-progress.

As I write it, you can follow my journey as a qualified teacher librarian moving into an established library in a primary school at very short notice and find out what I wished I had asked during the short hand-over period but didn’t because I assumed there would be a Procedures Manual available. Because even though I have a wide range of experience and expertise and knew what had to be done, I didn’t know how it was done in this particular context.


While there are practices that are common to all libraries, each school and education system has its own requirements that need to be followed and these need to be set out somewhere because you cannot make the assumption that your successor will necessarily be from the same school district as you and therefore know the drill. There are some things you don’t learn at library school but you need to know.  

So join me on my journey as I discover what I don’t know and need to know as I write a manual for the person who will inevitably follow in my footsteps. 

Access to the Library Management System

Providing comprehensive training in the use of the LMS used by the school/district is probably beyond the brief of the incumbent TL particularly if there is a short turnover period, but there needs to be information about…

  • what the LMS is and where training can be obtained, including any manuals, help desks, networks and other support systems that are in place in the short term should they be needed
  • how to access it via username and password and ensuring that the entry level assigned to you is at administrator level so you can access all its functions
  • an overview of the most commonly used modules with brief instructions on how these are used on the surface level so the everyday functions of the library can continue without interruption for the clients such as those governing circulation , adding new borrowers and accessioning new items.


While it is clearly acknowledged that usernames and passwords should not be shared. there are occasions where a school as an entity has a login.  These include access to databases, online newspapers and magazines, library support systems such as cataloguing services, vendor accounts and so forth.  So these details need to be made available.  


If there is existing documentation such as policies available then state where this is.  If it is online provide the pathway to it; if it is in print format then state where it can be found.  If it is online then it needs to be in a shared folder, not a personal one but having seen what can be done to “paperwork” stored online when uninformed  people decide it is time to clean up shared folders or systems crash and so forth, in my opinion it is worthwhile having both a paper copy of critical documents as well as a back-up digital source.

Essential documentation includes


As this is a primary function of the library explicit details need to be provided including

  • who may borrow
  • who may undertake circulation – Tl, teacher, students, self-circulation
  • how to access the circulation module of the LMS including any username or password
  • the steps involved in lending, returning, renewing and reserving a resource
  • if ebooks are available, instructions about how these are accessed and downloaded including usernames and passwords if applicable
  • if password-protected online resources are available, instructions about how these are accessed and downloaded including usernames and passwords if applicable
  • authority to override any restrictions placed on borrowers or resources
  • borrower loan categories, resource types and limits, lending periods and renewals for each
  • the generation of borrower barcodes and the maintenance of these
  • availability of class loans and the authority to borrow for these
  • accessing loan histories
  • master due date for returns prior to stocktake and instructions for setting this and other critical dates
  • any other limits or restrictions
  • treatment of overdue resources including the imposition and collection of fines
  • patron responsibilities for lost or damaged resources
  • how new borrowers are added
  • collection of statistics
  • interlibrary loan procedures

Include screenshots where applicable for easier explanation


Acquisition procedures must be clearly stated so that procedures can be followed in alignment with school/district requirements.  Information should include

  • budget preparation, submission and allocation
  • the timeframe for purchasing
  • purchasing procedures such as
    • the use of purchase orders and responsibility for placing these
    • the need for a supervisor to approve purchases
    • the use of school accounts and/or credit cards
    • online purchasing procedures
    • whose responsibility it is to ensure a vendor is paid
    • the reconciliation of the budget with expenditure to ensure limits are adhered to
  • criteria for selecting vendors including 
    • quality and reliability of service
    • preview practices and returns policies
    • value for money
    • payment options,
    • delivery costs
    • speed of delivery
  • preferred vendors who meet the criteria including
    • the use of those mandated by the school/district
    • the use of local vendors
    • specialist vendors
    • online vendors
    • the ability/restrictions applying to the TL making on-the-spot purchases including reimbursement
    • review of vendors for adherence to the selection criteria
  • the use of free services versus paid or subscription including statements about the need for the resource to adhere to the selection criteria for all resources, particularly considering
    • ownership of the resource
    • copyright compliance
    • advertising and offsite links
  • the outsourcing of collection development such as a service which supplies pre-selected titles and the criteria to be considered such as 
    • cost comparisons
    • previewing of titles for suitability
    • the ability to return unwanted items
  • the outsourcing of the processing of resources so they are shelf-ready
  • donations

To be continued…

the special needs hat



The mission statement for my library included this statement

We are dedicated to providing and promoting

intellectual and physical access for all

to an extensive range of print and electronic resources,

tools and technologies

It sounded very grand in theory but what did it look like in practice?  Was it even put into practice? Or was it one of those statements that had no substance behind it?

Achieving this part of the mission statement became a very real necessity as the school grew and more and more students enrolled. While every child has their own specific special needs, some experience more challenges than others and as the student population grew so did the number of students with particular needs, both mainstream and in the Learning Support Unit which specialised in working with children of the autism spectrum.

One of these special children was Molly who was a delightful child, but who suffered from severe and very frequent epileptic episodes which intruded on her everyday functioning as well as her ability to learn. She was also the daughter of a close friend so when she entered Kindergarten at age 5, I vowed that she would be able to operate in the library as independently as she could and the spinoff would be that if she could so could all the other students.  

It meant closely examining a number of things

  • how the regular students used the library
    • why they were there
    • what they did when they were there
    • how they used the space
    • what they borrowed
    • what they asked for or expected
    • how they operated within it independently
  •  how Molly and the other special needs students used the library
    • did their use of the library differ from that of mainstream students
    • what were their expectations
    • what were their frustrations
    • how their expectations could be met and their frustrations overcome
  • what their teachers expected of and needed from the library to support the students
  • what we were already doing that was working 
  • what we needed to change to make it better

a familiar place

Above all there has to be an atmosphere that tells the special needs child they are welcome in the library and that they are children first and while their disability is addressed, their needs as a child are what drives what we do.  Invite the children in with their aides (and parents if possible) when there are no other students in there so you can introduce yourself and any other adults who will assist them and show them around explaining how their needs can be met and seek suggestions for improvements.  Talk to the adults about any particular needs a child has and not just how these can be met but how the child might contribute.  For example, Lochie loved routine so he took on the responsibility of feeding the goldfish every morning.  In consultation with his parents, his reward was to take them home at the end of each year (so they wouldn’t starve over vacation) and they bought him an aquarium so he could continue his job.  Goldfish are cheap in comparison to the joy and sense of responsibility it gave him as well as acknowledging his need for rhythm and routine.

Two senior boys with anger management issues who spent more time off the playground than on relished the opportunity to be in charge of a canned food collection while a couple of artistic girls wanted to wrap all the presents that we collected for the children of Charleville when a crippling drought meant Santa probably wouldn’t get there that year.


Provide teddies or other soft toys which the children can cuddle during storytime, read to or tell their secrets to. If a child got restless and started to throw the teddy or whatever, I’d just ask “Can teddy enjoy the story?’ and it brought about calm again. I ended up having a collection of about 50 teddies sitting on the couches so any child could come in at any time and share a story with a teddy.  Angry kids, sad kids, kids having playground issues – there was never a teddy (or child) left unloved.

Teddies provide comfort

Teddies provide comfort

physical access

The first thing that usually comes to mind when we think of children with special needs is how a child in a wheelchair is going to access the shelves and while we think of allowing sufficient width between the aisles (and some jurisdictions have compulsory regulations to ensure this) it also means leaving room to manoeuvre the wheelchair at the ends of the rows. Because ours was a large library much of the collection had been arranged in ‘rooms’ rather than rows so this wasn’t a huge problem. Wherever possible and practical and particularly for fiction, I placed books in wall-shelves, dumpbins and displays at eye level for little ones so location and selection was easier. Face-out displays allowed for familiar titles, characters and authors to be easily recognised.

Dumpbins, wall shelves and tubs put the collection at the child's height.

Dumpbins, wall shelves and tubs put the collection at the child’s height.

However, there does need to be careful consideration given to the floor-covering particularly if it is carpet. When it was refurbished, a local shopping centre laid acres of new carpet  that was almost impossible to push either a wheelchair or a wheelie-walker on thus denying access to many shops and services for those not physically independent.

Shelf height is also an issue particularly for those school libraries serving older students who are taller so some compromises may have to be made.  In the primary school library things have to be at a lower level so little five-year-olds can access them but nevertheless there has to be a system in place to enable those who struggle and an environment created where they feel comfortable in asking for assistance. Also think about the height of your Returns box, the circ desk and any computers that a child with a disability might access.  Talk to their primary carers about their needs and how these might be addressed.  While the provision of step-stools may appeal, these themselves can provide even more problems. 

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve asked children to tuck their chairs in as they rush off in their eagerness to be wherever they need to be and another dollar for every time the plea fell on deaf ears and I’ve had to go round and tuck them in myself.  But chairs and bags and so forth can be significant hazards for those with mobility issues so the nagging has to continue.  However, when you relate to it a particular student’s movement – “Tuck your chair in so —- can get through” – it is surprising how quickly the children see the purpose of your request and it becomes automatic.  Often they will remind their friends or just move something anyway! 


Under the Collection Policy the collection should offer resources in a diversity of formats to meet the learning styles of its users generally but it is essential that you look beyond the general population and examine the needs of specific groups within it.  Consider the needs of

  • indigenous students
  • English language learners
  • those with learning disabilities
  • those with physical disabilities, particular illnesses or allergies
  • those from other cultures and countries
  • the religious philosophy of the school, if any
  • the LGBTI community

Strive to have resources that will allow the children to read about themselves so they feel they are included and acknowledged. Seek out services that supply or adapt resources to meet the needs of these students such as Vision Australia Information and Library Service  or the Geoff Gallop Braille and Talking Book Library  Ensure your signage is large, visible and readable and include a  picture or other non-text cue where appropriate.

Signage needs to be bold and clear

Signage needs to be bold and clear

As well as signage, write clear step-by-step instructions for using the OPAC or borrowing procedures or logging into the computers, including non-texts cues where necessary. These can become a teaching exercise for the students, peer-tested and then published. Make them available as bookmarks too.


As well as catering for the physical and learning needs, be aware of each child’s social and emotional needs so these can be addressed during teaching times.  Some like to work alone, others with a partner or group members; some can cope with being touched or close to other children while this can be an anathema to others; some like public praise, others shy from it. Consider concentration spans (often quotes as the child’s age plus three minutes for regular children) and structure the time so there is a time to listen and a time to respond.

Talk to the teachers and aides about particular behaviour management routines that the child knows and responds to so that there is consistency between classroom and library including any strategies to be used in an emergency.


If your school has an online presence strive to make is as user-friendly as possible by making the information easily accessible  even to those without a lot of language skills.  This is the Resource Centre’s entry page of a particular school’s website that was based on that philosophy. Embedded in the graphic were links to various parts of the Centre’s website and there were small graphic-based buttons that led to pages as well.



Working with children with special needs is as rewarding as it is challenging.  But if we have their needs as a child at the forefront of our practice, anything we do to make the library a better place for them makes it a better place for the other children as well.



the censor’s hat






Putting on this hat is one that does not fit well for many teacher librarians.

Is restricting access to some resources censorship or duty of care?


Certainly it is a question that raises its head frequently on the teacher librarian networks, moreso in the US where the ALA has very clear policies and statements on the freedom to read which is “essential to [their] democracy”.    In terms of Australian libraries the closest I could find to a similar statement was the ALIA Statement of free access to information .

While these are critical statements that govern a library’s right and responsibility to provide resources regardless of an individual’s perspective or preference, as teacher librarians we must remember that we are in a school situation and as such, we have an official duty of care to the students in our care.  We cannot not set ourselves up to be paragons of virtue or the moral compass of the community, but what we do and offer must reflect the values and attitudes of the school community we serve.

Unlike the US where censorship seems to be alive and well – ALA state that there were at least 464 books challenged in 2012 alone but they also say that probably 70-80% are not reported- such censorship does not happen in Australia. The last book banned here was Portnoy’s Complaint. We do not have a Banned Books Week to celebrate the freedom of speech but that’s not to say books aren’t challenged – recently one person complained of one word in Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” which was selling in a national supermarket chain and the chain’s reaction was to pull the entire stock off the shelves!  The resultant publicity resulted in their selling more books than ever!

However, there is still the issue of what is appropriate to a particular audience and who decides.

The answer comes down to our professional knowledge about the development and maturation of the students, their reading needs, interests and abilities, the curriculum the collection is required to support, the underlying ethos of the school and its community and collection development practices.

In the ideal situation, that collection is built up in consultation with the teachers and selection aids, including reviews and recommendations, are used to guide choices.  Given that most teacher librarians have more contact with children than the average parent, they are more likely to have a deeper knowledge of what is appropriate, although parents should be able to make suggestions but these should always be measured against the selection criteria of the Collection Policy. The TL is also in the position to have the broad overview of what is happening in the school regarding teaching, learning and the curriculum as well as being the most likely to have a knowledge of what is available and suitable to support this.  TLs are also highly connected and so they can find out what else there is very quickly and get suitable suggestions from a range of other professionals.  They can put their leadership hat on top of their censorship one.

Censorship, to me, is when a book is not added to the collection because of the personal prejudices of the librarian, principal or someone else.   The most recent widespread controversy I can think of is when many schools banned Harry Potter because of the witchcraft/magic aspect and while many may have justified their decisions because of their personal interpretation of the tenets of their faith, denying children access to that series is censorship.

Conversely, NOT selecting a Jodi Picoult novel (for example) for a K-6 school is about knowing what is developmentally appropriate. It is not about being the Book Police. Teachers and parents rely on us using our professional knowledge to make the call, BUT they always have the option of purchasing titles or borrowing them from the public library if their child wants to read beyond what we acquire.

No school library can acquire every resource that is available for its target age group – that’s why the Collection Policy is such a crucial document and needs to be tailored to the individual school.  A one-size-fits-all-policy copied and pasted from elsewhere cannot reflect the unique needs of a particular school because the demographics of each school are so diverse.  This policy should identify who the readers are; the goals for developing the collection for the next three years (such as a focus on a format or curriculum area); and have specific selection criteria that will guide choices so they are in alignment with achieving the goals. But most importantly, it is underpinned by the needs, interests and abilities of the collection’s users based on the professional knowledge of those who are teaching them.  A Collection Policy developed by the TL and ratified by the administration is also the best defence if a selection (or lack of) is questioned. Demonstrating how it meets the selection criteria (or not) of a formal policy is hard to argue with.

Censorship is not always restricted to titles that might seem obvious because of their focus on sex, violence and other unsavoury practices.  These are some recently challenged in the US…

  • True Diary of a Part Time Indian.
  • Color Purple
  • Year of the Jungle
  • It’s a Book
  • Looking for Alaska
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Of Mice and Men
  • A biography of Oprah Winfrey
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  • Forever
  • Killing Mr. Griffin

Even Bob Graham’s Let’s Get a Pup is on the US list. And I’m sure many of us are familiar with stories of Mr McGee’s penis being hidden by white-out in Mr McGee and the Biting Flea when teachers or parents have been offended.



Censored and Banned Books: From John Steinbeck to Dr. Seuss

Recently there was an issue in a primary school I know where a pre-school child selected a book from the Junior Fiction section as a class read-aloud and it was clearly not suitable for that age group.  It happened because someone had decided that because it was in picture book format then it was Junior Fiction, something we know not to be true.  This has prompted a formal collection appraisal and evaluation of the collection, judging the location against an authoritative list and making changes where appropriate.  We also established a Senior Fiction classification (identified by a sticker on the spine)  acknowledging that some students are intellectually and emotionally mature enough to read materials that might be considered YA and their needs should be catered for just as those of children who are not yet reading independently are catered for.

This was not censorship – it was duty of care exercising our professional judgement to cater for the individual needs of the students.  While students have access to the entire collection, identifying those that might be cause for concern because a young person does not have the requisite maturity to deal with the content (particularly in collections that cater for a wide age group) is showing responsibility not restriction. Until our students are old enough to take personal responsibility for their choices  (and the Child Online Privacy Protection Act would deem that to be 13)  it is our role as teachers to provide the scaffolds to help them and we must never step back from that.

Of course, there are always going to be individuals who disagree with your selection and location of resources and that is why having a Challenged Materials Policy (scroll to the end)  as part of your Collection Policy is vital.  Such a policy means one person’s agenda cannot drive the development of your collection. It provides a formal way for a complaint to be made and considered while also showing that an individual can only dictate what their own child/children can have access to – they cannot make decisions on behalf of other parents. It requires the complainant to specifically identify the focus of the objection rather than relying on hearsay or gossip.

Nevertheless, censorship in itself can be an interesting topic and it offers much scope for investigations…

This article from School Library Journal is worth reading and considering in light of your circumstances and professional practice. Unnatural Selection: More Librarians Are Self-Censoring

You might also like to consider the issues raised in The Tricky Topics Hat

However, ultimately we must see our selection of the collection as guidance not censorship.  Hopefully, the hat will sit more comfortably now.


the paperwork hat








Paperwork can be a pain – so much so, it often gets left at the bottom of the in-tray or filed in the too-hard basket.

However, I believe it is an essential part of our job as we are so often the only one of us in the role in the school and there is much that we do that is a mystery to those who are unfamiliar with the L side of TL. Paperwork allows for continuity and consistency of policy, procedures and practice even when the personnel changes.  It can be used to explain and defend decisions by showing that they are based on accepted best-practice in library circles.

Paperwork also provides possibilities to explore and to reflect.  As we construct policies , procedures and programs and align them to fit the specific situation we are in there is an opportunity to examine why we do what we do and, if necessary,  explore other ways to do it.  For example, many are choosing to switch their shelving arrangements to one driven by genre rather than author and while there are many questions that need to be satisfied before that, or any other major change, is made, nevertheless it provides the motivation to consider different practices. 

But paperwork is so much more than a Collection Policy and a Procedures Manual glanced at occasionally and amended every now and then.


In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey tells us to “begin with the end in mind” so all the steps we take are leading in the right direction. Therefore it is critical to explicitly identify the purpose that the library serves within the learning community.  Return to The Visionary’s Hat  for ideas about examining the current place and perception of the library’s role and then construct a mission statement that clearly establishes

  • what this library is about
  • what it stands for
  • how that is demonstrated

The mission statement is the basis for all decisions made regarding policy, procedures and practice and sets the guidelines and parameters for the services you offer.

If the purpose of the library now is different from what it should be, then create a vision statement  and a strategic plan so that your mission statement can be achieved. Because a mission statement should be a brief, broad, big-picture concept, there will always be a gap between what is and what could be.  Having formal paperwork to support what you are doing not only establishes priorities but also provides evidence should your actions and decisions be challenged.


Having established the purpose of the library within the its community, it is then essential to identify the position of the teacher librarian within that so it is clear what it is that we do that makes the role distinct from all others.

Ask yourself,

What is my role within this school?

Revisit the beliefs and manifesto that you developed in The Teacher’s Hat and then try to encapsulate your role in just six words.  Here are some examples…

  • Inspiring students to read and learn
  • Service Information  Reliability Convenience  Vision Strength
  • Share literature and information seeking skills
  • Reading builds success.  We build readers.
  • 21st century transliteracy impacts academic achievement

Learning for the Future, 2nd edition identifies the role as

curriculum leader, information specialist, information services manager

View this presentation by Ned Potter and brand yourself!

Then consider

  • Why are you a teacher-librarian?
    • It is critical that the specialist teaching role of the TL is the predominant one or the perception that the role can be done undertaken by a general librarian, a library assistant or an untrained clerical will continue to grow, particularly as “everything is on the internet” and “librarians are all about books” remain the perspectives of many
    • It is critical that you demonstrate how you value-add to the teaching and learning in the school and support this with evidence-based practice, formal or informal.
    • Understand that your most important clients are the staff, not only because it is easier to influence 30 staff members than 300 students but also because the greatest influence on students’ use of the library is that made of it be their teachers.
    • Research shows that for pedagogies and scaffolds such as inquiry learning and information literacy to be most effective, they need to be embedded in meaningful contexts and because the teacher librarian does not have the time nor the opportunity to teach everything that needs to be taught, it is essential to form partnerships – 1:1, team, faculy and whole-school- to offer professional learning so that these approaches are across-school and across-curriculum practices.
    • As  the curriculum leader it is essential to know the scope of the curriculum -national, state and school-based- so it can be resourced in collaboration with teaching staff so the needs of students, staff and curriculum are met
    • It is also our role to introduce new services such as access to the online resources of the National Digital Learning Resources Network through Scootle, and programs such as Improve, Spatial Genie, Mathletics and so forth.  We are also often considered the experts in the identification and use of Web 2 tools so teachers can use these with their students, so it is essential we know what these are.


  • What is your current position in the school?
    • Do you collaboratively plan and teach across the curriculum?
    • Do you cover classroom-based teachers’ planning and preparation time?
    • Are you viewed as a specialist teacher with skills that span the curriculum or are you viewed as an English teacher on steroids whose  primary purpose is to enhance reading and the love of “literature”?
    • Are you everyone’s dogsbody or doormat with no defined teaching role? 


  • What do you want your position to be?
    • Use  the domains, standards and performance indicators of the Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians (or the appropriate professional role statements for your location) to clearly understand the scope of the teacher librarian’s role.  Even though the AITSL professional teaching standards govern our professional knowledge, practice and commitment for accrediation and registration purposes,  these specific statements developed and promulgated by ASLA explain just what an excellent teacher librarian is expected to know, do and provide, giving us not only heights to strive for but also a succinct role description for our colleagues.  ASLA have also produced the Evidence guide for teacher librarians in the highly accomplished career stage and are working on guides for the other AITSL levels which provide more detailed advice about the role of the TL but these are available only to members.
    • Know the difference between a dream and a goal is an action plan and a timeline and in the same way as you have created a strategic plan, develop a plan to get you where you want to be.  Use The Bridge-builder’s Hat for suggestions for strategic connections and consider
      • what you want your primary position to be
      • what you need to do to achieve your goal
      • what you already know, do and have that you can use
      • what you need to know, do and have to move forward
      • what resources – personnel, physical, financial and time – do you need to achieve your goal’
      • what would be a reasonable timeframe in which to achieve your goal
      • what would be significant milestones on the journey
      • what will be the indicators that your goal has been achieved

The most important factor is to be visible – recess, staff meetings, faculty meetings, online.  Even though it is a university site there is much we can learn about visibility  from the Arizona State Uni libraries  and adapt it to our situations.

However, as well as being visible, put your position in writing.  Develop a role statement for yourself and the other members of the library’s staff that can be used to introduced the staff and what they do for the learning community.  Use statements from

to provide a generic statement on the role of the teacher librarian and then develop this to demonstrate what this means for you in your school. Use the duty statement to explain and educate so you become your own best advocate. Make it a fluid document so that what you do this year, you can build on next year and so the duties change to meet the changing needs and expectations.

Begin with a brief rationale based on creating an information literate school community just to set the context of the library within the school for both your supervisor and those who follow in your footsteps.. Set clear S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goals and demonstrate, ensure and check that each duty you perform is helping you achieve them.  Think of a Duty Statement as a self-management policy as opposed to a collection management policy. But ensure your goals are in alignment with the schools’ philosophies and policies. use the Learning for the Future headings of curriculum leader, information specialist and information services manager and adapt their descriptors to demonstrate how this will be interpreted in your situation-what it will look like in your school.

Use the  Standards of Professional Excellence to set personal performance targets. be canvassing the staff to see what their expectations of you are so you can set priorities on the results of an Information Needs Audit.. They may have needs that the previous teacher librarian didn’t meet, or they may not be aware of the range of services you can offer. Draw on your Collection Policy to determine goals and priorities for purchasing, assessing, weeding and so forth.  Write these up as specific duties so that the annual inventory becomes a collection evaluation exercise not just “counting the books”. Avoid quantitative performance targets such as “increase circulation by x%” because you are providing a measure whose achievement is beyond your control. But, under a sub-heading such as Curriculum Renewal you could write something like “Assess and map the resources supporting the current _____ curriculum to determine if they are current and relevant to staff and student needs. Discuss with ________ faculty how their resource needs (in digital and print format) can be met.  Research cost and availability of new resources.  Advocate for appropriate budget funds and allocate these to acquire these resources.”  That still gives a measurable target but also includes a structure for you to follow and your supervisor to understand what is involved. 

Create a balance of duties that demonstrate that you are an integral part of both the teaching and exec teams and that you also have unique skills in librarianship and those times not filled with direct contact with staff and students are filled with administration roles, such as supervising and teaching your administrative staff.) Include references to specific documents so the hierarchy can see that your duties are being guided by authoritative sources.  Use this document for professional performance appraisal, both personal and formal. Impress with your professionalism.

Develop similar statements to cover the roles of any other library staff members and volunteers so it is clear that each has a distinct and different contribution to make to the efficient and effective functioning of the library.


Having policies in place about the what and why means there is agreement of knowledge, consistency in application, and accountability regardless of personnel changes.

Library policies are broad statements based on research and best practice. They

    • provide an important reference for library staff, administrators and teachers
    • provide a ratified document that can be used to defend a decision which is challenged
    • guide decisions about the necessary staffing, funding and facilities to implement the policy
    • offer assistance to new staff about what is done and how it is done and why

They  need to be developed within the context of the philosophy, policies, guidelines and directives of the school and the educational authority to which the school belongs and reflect their ethos and goals so they demonstrate the professionalism and ‘librarian’ side of ‘teacher librarian’.

A policy provides a concise formal statement of principles which underpin how the library will act in a particular area of its operation.  It needs to be developed within the parameters of system and school requirements and philosophies and demonstrate how it will contribute to those big-picture goals during its life. A policy should identify

    • a definition of its focus
    • its purpose
    • the goals to be achieved during the life of the policy
    • the broad principles which are to be followed to achieve these
    • key personnel responsible for authorship and implementation
    • its review cycle

A policy is a public document available to the school community and often written in consultation with them. It should be brief and broad stating what happens and why. A change in personnel or procedure should not require a change in policy.

Key library-based policies include

  • mission statement (what the library stands for)
  • vision statement (how the library’s services will grow and change over the next three years)
  • collection policy (how the collection is developed including its purpose, selection, acquisition, evaluation and a Challenged Materials Policy)
  • collection management policy (what happens to the resources once acquired, although much of this will be in the Procedures Manual)
  • collection access policy (who may access the resources, when and how and consequences for those who show a lack of responsibility) 
  • textbook policy (for those schools where circulation of textbooks becomes the library’s responsibility)

However, there is a host of other policies  that may be developed under the auspices of the library including those relating to

  • intellectual property and ethical use of ideas, information and images
  • information literacy
  • inquiry learning
  • technology planning
  • internet access
  • computer network usage
  • privacy
  • administration

These policies should be school-wide documents rather than library-specific.  However, as the person with the speciailist knowledge, the TL is in a position to take a leadership role in their development.


Procedures differ from policy because they explain how something is done, rather than why. They reflect the information services manager aspect of the TL’s role. A Procedures Manual is an internal document which details specific practices that implement the policy and ensures consistency and continuity of practice and equity so the library’s practices are not the subject of one person’s or faculty’s agenda. They are based on research and best practice, and thus are  more easily adapted to new situations than a policy.  A change in personnel or practice should be identified in the Procedures Manual not the policy. For example, while the policy might state that “acquisitions will be made in accordance with identified school requirements”, procedures identify exactly what those procedures are. If the Procedures Manual provides a step-by-step description of how new resources will be entered into the library management system, then if the LMS is changed, it is the Procedures Manual which will be changed rather than the Collection Policy.

Procedures, particularly those relating to acquisition , must be in alignment with the education authority’s requirements and therefore it may be necessary to continually maintain and manage your budget,  invoices and receipts. Keeping track of expenditure is an essential element of the TL’s role.

As well as providing step-by-step guidance for those undertaking particular tasks associated with the smooth running of the facility, there are some procedures which impact directly on the library’s users such as stocktake or inventory.  Therefore it is worthwhile producing documentation which explains why the interruptions are necessary and how they will lead to an improved collection and services.  Some jurisdictions also require a formal report of the state of the collection for auditing purposes so it is essential that this be completed and submitted.  Check how long such reports need to be kept – in NSW, it is seven years.

Similarly, if there are procedures you require users to follow, such as requesting  resources or booking a library timeslot, then these need to be explicitly documented (with links to the software if that is used) and distributed to those who require them. Make sure your form, print or electronic, provides you with all the information you need to provide the most comprehensive service possible so the user is inclined to return.

Documentation of how to access online databases, other subscription services and the use of Scootle to access the NDLRN (Australia only) is also essential so that these services can be used independently. Acknowledge that there are those who do not like to seek help so the provision of such information through pamphlets or posters can be very liberating for them and it’s another way to reach that long tail of potential users who think that the library is not for them.

Clear, attractive and accurate signage is also critical. Made using an app such as MS Publisher using a consistent format, font and colourway, signs can be tailored to the needs of your collection allowing even the youngest users to be independent in their searching and selection.  Hanging signs using appropriate models connected with fishing line over the areas most often used by your clientele also enable users to feel empowerment over the environment. 

Explicit, clear signage allows for independent selection.

Explicit, clear signage allows for independent selection.

Hanging signs made from cheap, lightweight models strung together with fishing line mean even the youngest user can find the section they want

Hanging signs made from cheap, lightweight models strung together with fishing line mean even the youngest user can find the section they want.


The teacher librarian is often regarded as the copyright manager and thus it is worthwhile developing documentation that details what is allowed to be copied and under what conditions.  While staff and students may have access to official copyright sites such as Smartcopying in Australia, providing a ready reference for the most common situations will empower clients to make their own decisions.


Because we are teacher librarians our teaching programs have to be as explicit and professional as those required of our classroom-based colleagues. We need to identify what we want students to know, do, understand, appreciate and value as a result of our teaching and this has to be explicitly identified in the preamble and rationale of our programs.  Not only does it emphasise the teaching aspect of the position, it demonstrates why the TL must hold dual qualifications.  Programs must

  • be based on current best-practice pedagogy
  • reflect our knowledge of the curriculum
  • demonstrate the AITSL professional teaching standards
  • embrace education authority-based initiatives like Quality Teaching
  • support identified school-based priorities
  • focus on inquiry-based learning and information literacy
  • promote cyber safety and digital citizenship
  • develop online competency

The American Association of School Libraries has identified a set of standards for the 21st Century Learner that could well underpin the programs of all of us, regardless of location or sector.  They cover four broad categories

inquire, think critically and gain knowledge
draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations and create new knowledge
share knowledge and participate ethically and productively in our democratic society
pursue personal and aesthetic growth

Within each category, there are skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities and self-assessment strategies that permeate every level and strand of the curriculum.  The document provides an authoritative base on which to build any teaching platform but also highlight the specialist nature of the TL’s role.


As well as those teaching-based programs, there are also promotion programs such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge, Children’s Book Week, World Read-Aloud Day, National Poetry Month and so forth that can help put the library at the hub of what happens in the school. However, because it is possible to have something new every week, it is essential that as the TL we pick and choose judiciously those events which will receive a heightened focus.  Once an event has been selected, it is worthwhile creating a file that explicitly links the event to the teaching and learning outcomes within the school and promoting this to teaching staff so they immediately identify how it will add value to the curriculum.  Including information about resources used or activities undertaken means there is a ready-reference if the same event is chosen in subsequent years.

Most schools are required to produce an annual report each year do parents are informed about what has been achieved and accomplished.  Contributing a section about the achievements of the library to this is formal way of alerting  administrators, executive, staff and parents to the doings of the library and how funds, including the salaries of the library staff have been invested in teaching and learning outcomes.  An even more extensive report such as this one by Joyce Valenza for the Springfield Township High School Library can be produced and made available through the school library’s website. As well as encapsulating data, it could also be an outlet for your Junior Journalists as they report on the key activities that have taken place throughout the year. Take photographs and videos of special events so they can be included.

It is also worthwhile to regularly gather statistics such as patron usage, resource acquisition and circulation and other relevant data several times throughout the year so a snapshot can be provided and analysed.  User satisfaction reports from staff, students, school leavers and parents can also provide valuable evaluative information, as well as demonstrating growth and change. Creating a well-rounded, well-balanced annual report not only demonstrates professionalsim but can also demonstrate how well you are adhering to and working towards your strategic plan as well as giving pointers for improvement.

Less formal promotions such as supporting parent participation programs or producing a pamphlet to assist parents with reading with their child at home are all part of the paperwork but all contribute to that evidence-based practice that is so critical.


There are many ways to advertise the library’s services that involve informal paperwork and these will be examined in The Promoter’s Hat.

Putting on your paperwork hat, as ill-fitting as it might feel, goes a long way to declaring and demonstrating your professionalism.

Taking Stock





what is a stocktake?

A stocktake is a legal requirement that ensures accountability for the money that has been spent throughout the year. Including staff salaries, resources, subscriptions, and other necessities this can amount to over $120 000 per year. It enables the collection to be formally and throughly evaluated regularly ensuring that it contines to meet the needs, interests and abilities of its users through the provision of the most relevant resources. 

Making stocktake a critical event in the management of the library creates a greater sense of responsibility towards the resources so all users benefit. It enables everyone to understand that the word borrow implies return and that a library offers an opportunity for sharing things that they would not normally be able to access. It means that all resources are evaluated for accuracy, currency, appearance and cleanliness and that they are where they should be on the shelves. Where appropriate, online links are checked to make sure they are still live, ebooks are still available and susbcription services still accessible.

It is usually done at the end of each academic year as part of the collection evaluation process, at a time when there is less demand for resources and most of the collection is available to the teacher-librarian to undertake the procedures. However, it can be done at any time and spread over the timeframe set by your educational authority.

Through their professional training, the teacher-librarian is the staff member who is best qualified to make judgements about the collection according to the needs of the staff, students, curriculum delivery and development and condition of the resource. Therefore it requires the teacher-librarian to see the resources so that appropriate assessments can be made.

Making stocktake a critical event in the management of the library creates a greater sense of responsibility towards the resources so all users benefit. It enables everyone to understand that the word borrow implies return and that a library offers an opportunity for sharing things that they would not normally be able to access.

Stocktake is more than scanning books and ensuring they are accounted for and on the right place on the shelf. It requires teacher librarians to demonstrate their three key roles of curriculum leader, information services manager and information specialist.

  • as curriculum leader, the teacher librarian must ensure that resources support the school curriculum and beyond and span the needs, interests and abilities of the collection’s users 
  • as information specialist, the teacher librarian must ensure that the resources continue to meet the criteria of the Collection Development policy including accuracy, authority, currency, objectivity and relevance
  • as information services manager, the teacher librarian must ensure that access to all resources is maintained through accurate and thorough records


why do a stocktake?

Stocktake allows the teacher librarian to

  • formally ensure that the physical resources identified in the library’s accession register and OPAC are available for circulation, are in good repair and in their correct location
  • formally ensure that the virtual resources identified in the library’s management system and OPAC are available for circulation and the content and any associated advertising or embedded links remains appropriate for the collection’s users
  • ensure that the collection continues to meet the needs of its users, reflecting their interests and abilities and supporting the beliefs and values of the school’s community
  • ensure that the current collection, both physical and virtual, continues to underpin the curriculum and proposed changes
  • ensure that the collection remains copyright compliant
  • track purchases, losses and disposals and ensure records reflect these
  • identify those resources whose subscriptions are due for renewal and assess the value of doing so according to the selection criteria of the Collection Policy, usage and budget constraints
  • identify those virtaul resources who subscriptions are due for renewal, assess the value of doing so in accordance with  Collection Policy criteria and seek freely available alternatives through the National Digital Learning Zresources Netowrk, open education resources and similar avenues
  • measure the collection (numbers, age and resource:student ratio) against the benchmarks identified by the Australian School Library Association
  • examine each resource and determine its future based on age, relevance, currency and condition, which may include repair, replacement, disposal, or cleaning, to ensure that attractive, up-to-date resources are available to everyone
  • decide whether a resource that is to be disposed needs to be replaced or substituted based on the teacher librarian’s knowledge of the whole curriculum and what is available on the market, and whether such replacement should be a physical or virtual resource
  • ensure that the resources in a particular curriculum area cover a variety of formats and reading levels so that the collection is accessible to all by catering for a range of learning needs and styles
  • map the collection to flag areas for development in order to fill identified needs to support future curriculum delivery and current student needs
  • identify and prioritise future purchases, prepare a budget based on evidence of needs and begin sourcing those required immediately
  • identify areas that can be complemented with online and digital resources and design and deliver access to these
  • identify areas for expansion because of their popularity, including buying a wider range of resources on the topic; purchasing extra copies of a popular resource; or ensuring that all titles in a particular series are available so equity of access is maintained
  • ensure that all resources will be in their correct places for the beginning of the new school year so that staff and students can locate them easily
  • identify and fix anomalies in cataloguing, incomplete records or typos on spine labels
  • augment catalogue records with extra information where appropriate
  • use their specialist knowledge to make decisions about the location of resources based on the teacher librarian’s knowledge of the library’s users
  • identify areas that need new signage and create this, or repair old signs so that the collection is well signposted to enable independent and easy access
  •  re-arrange the shelves or change the layout to minimise overcrowding and book damage, and consider better ways of presentation to encourage circulation
  • generate accurate reports based on actual data and assess the effectiveness of borrowing procedures, security measures and other circulation processes
  • reconcile the state of the current collection with the goals and purpose stated in the collection development policy
  • review the collection and refresh memories of specific items so relevant suggestions can be made to users at an appropriate time
  • reflect on the services that are provided and seek ways these can be improved
  • ensure items flagged as overdue are not on the shelves so that we can send out accounts for replacement with confidence
  • set goals to use administration time effectively including promotion, weeding, reorganising, signage and curriculum support
  • satisfy a professional need to have accurate management records, an attractive environment and be able to offer the level of service expected through a well-managed collection
  • exchange our teaching hat for our librarian’s one and demonstrate why we have graduate degrees in two disciplines.


deselection of resources

De-selection of resources –the systematic and deliberate removal of items from the collection— is undertaken at this time in accordance with the Collection Development policy.

In summary, de-selection will be considered for items which

  • are dirty or damaged beyond repair
  • are in a format no longer supported by available hardware
  • have information which is inaccurate, out-of-date, biased, racist, sexist or misleading
  • contain racial, sexual or cultural stereotyping and are not required for the teaching of these concepts
  • are unappealing in appearance or format
  • are inappropriate or irrelevant to the needs, abilities and interests of the library’s users
  • have significantly declined in circulation and are unlikely to be required in the future
  • have been superseded by newer editions
  • are unused duplicate copies
  • have altered terms and conditions of use which are unacceptable
  • breach copyright regulations
  • no longer meet the requirements and criteria of the collection development policy

For a guide to deselecting items according to age, refer to Deselection in the Collection Management Policy

Consideration should be given to keeping

  • Classics, award winners
  • Local History
  • Annuals & School Publications
  • Titles on current reading lists
  • Out of print titles that are still useful
  • Biographical Sources
  • Resources which might be of historical interest or comparison at a later time


This entry was posted on June 1, 2014, in . 2 Comments

Policies and Procedures




Documentation of policies and procedures explains why and how things are done in the library and ensure that there is consistency of application regardless of changes of personnel and other circumstances.

Library policy and procedures

    • provide an important reference for library staff, administrators and teachers
    • provide a ratified document that can be used to defend a decision which is challenged
    • guide decisions about the necessary staffing, funding and facilities to implement the policy
    • offer assistance to new staff about what is done and how it is done

A policy provides a concise formal statement of principles which underpin how the library will act in a particular area of its operation.  It needs to be developed within the parameters of system and school requirements and philosophies. A policy should identify

    • a definition of its focus
    • its purpose
    • the goals to be achieved during the life of the policy
    • the broad principles which are to be followed to achieve these
    • key personnel responsible for authorship and implementation
    • its review cycle

A policy is a public document available to the school community and often written in consultation with them. It should be brief and broad stating what happens and why.

Procedures are specific and detailed instructions used to implement the policy. They should be in a logical and systematic sequence and where practical, supplemented with a flowchart. They are intended for those who implement the policy, are practical and often situation-specific so are much longer than the policy they support because they explain how. A change of procedure should not require a change of policy.

The key policies of a school library are 

However there is a number of information policies that should be developed as part of an information literate school community and for which the teacher librarian should have a leadership role.


  • General statement about intellectual property and the ethical use of information
  • Copyright compliance including
    • Fair Use
    • allowances under school licences including CAL, Screenrights, AMCOS, ARIA , AMCOS/ARIA and digital publishing
    • material published by the school
    • categories of material for which copyright has been waived such as Creative Commons and Open Education Resources
    • downloading online resources
    • standard citation or referencing style e.g. APa or MLA
    • plagiarism and the consequences of academic dishonesty
    • the purchase and use of illegal copies of materials
    • Crown Copyright
    • the use of students’ work in public places

  • General statement about access to the Internet
  • Instructional use of Internet
  • Non-instructional use of the Internet
  • Internet acceptable use policy
  • Access to and use of Web  2.0 tools
  • Internet filtering and blocking
  • Web Page Publishing policy

  • Information literacy definition
  • Information literacy standards
  • Information literacy as an across-curriculum perspective
  • Professional learning for staff to improve and implement information literacy across the curriculum

  • Inquiry Learning across the Australian Curriculum
  • Inquiry learning definition and scaffold
  • Professional learning for staff to design and deliver inquiry-based units

  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Educational jurisdiction requirements
  • Development and maintenace of school’s online presence
  • Curricular and instructional needs
  • Information infrastructure, provision, storage and accessibility
  • Access to online resources
  • Computer literacy standards for students
  • Computer literacy standards for teachers
  • Technical support
  • Hardware and software needs, maintenance and update
  • Provision of hardware – this may require a separate Bring your Own device policy
  • Use of subscription services such as video streaming
  • Licensing agreements for software
  • Knowledge management
  • School intranet
  • Evaluation of technology planning

  • General statement about data privacy
  • Data security on networks
  • Authorized disclosure of personal information
  • Access to personal information by students and parents e.g. attendance, performance, etc.
  • Complaint procedure for parents and students
  • Privacy Coordinator
  • Students’ records
  • Destruction of records/files of deceased students or those no longer at the school
  • Referral procedures, forms
  • Photos of students – taking and using
  • Enrolment data
  • Library borrowing records
  • Creating materials
  • Teachers’ Professional growth plans
  •  Teachers’ Promotional information
  • Teacher Technology Standards
  • Teaching plans
  • Assessment procedures, forms
  • Competency statements

  • Electronic mail (Staff use)
  • Electronic mail (Student use)
  • Electronic mail (Parents access)
  • Access to and use of social networking tools
  • Acceptable Use policies for students and staff including consequences for breaches
  • Access to computer resources outside of regular school instructional hours

  • Storage of and access to files for staff and students
  • Use of school/departmental information management systems
  • Description of and access to shared files/folders on school network
  • Authority and levels of access
  • Document (print and electronic) management
  • Security
  • Networking computers
  • Use of CCTV systems
  • Staff technology training program
  • IT coordinator role
  • Backup procedures for data

In 2018 ALIA  released A Manual for Developing Policies and Procedures in Australian School Library Resource Centres (2nd edition)

the reader’s hat

the reader's hat

There is a perception that the role of the teacher librarian is to sit and read all day. After all, we are ‘the gatekeepers of the literature’, with the power and ability to “bring the beauty and the joy of the written word to students”.

So it comes as a surprise to many, including those who entering the profession that we are not English teachers or language arts teachers or literacy coaches on steroids. It also comes as a shock that to have any time to read anything during the day is a rare time indeed!

Nevertheless, the teacher librarian as a reader is a critical role if we are to guide students on their reading journeys, confirming their choices, consolidating their skills and helping them plan new adventures.

It is not the purpose of this post to examine the value of literature to children.  Others much more knowledgeable have written about this such as Maurice Saxby’s The gift of wings: The value of literature to children. Neither is it to provide a crash course in children’s literature – there are many university courses to do that including those from Charles Sturt University. And nor is it to examine the role of literature in education – there are hundreds of pedagogical texts which address that. It’s not even to offer an opinion on what sort of literature to add to your collection and promote – your collection policy should be your guide for that. Rather, it is to consider our role as the readers’ advisory service and how we might do this better given the limited time we have.

The high purpose of book selection is to provide the right book for the right reader at the right time.

Drury, F.K.W. (1930) Book Selection Chicago: American Library Association

Every reader his or her book…

Every book its reader.

Ranganathan, S. R. (1931) The five laws of library science. Madras, India:Madras Library Association

As can be seen by the date of these two quotes, the concept of the librarian and teacher librarian as being the readers’ adviser has been around for a long time, and while it may be impossible these days to put the right book in the right reader’s hands at the right time because there are so many book and so many readers and only one of us, we do have a responsibility to have

  • an understanding of the significant stages in reading development across the ages of our clientele
  • an understanding of the sorts of text formats and features which support reading development at different times
  • a working knowledge of those titles  in the library’s collection
  • a desire to continue reading the literature that is most appropriate for those in our care

Because we are teacher librarians. there is an expectation that we will have a knowledge of a child’s literacy development from the reading-like behaviour of the toddler mimicking the adult who reads to them to the independent reader who has mastered not only the mechanics but who has also taken responsibility for their “reading life” (Miller, Reading in the Wild p.xviii). Although it is not our role to be reading instructors, there is much that we can offer to support reading instruction by making selections to add to the collection that are age and stage appropriate. 

In my opinion, and that of many others – experts and practitioners alike –  it is not the library’s role to support instructional reading to the extent that we organise our collections according to an artificial measure such as the in-vogue assignment of a lexile which does not take into account the prior knowledge or maturity level required to enjoy the book to its fullest, or according to a points system imposed by a commercial scheme or any other arbitrary standard that is likely to limit or marginalise our students based on their choices. However, we do have a responsibility to provide titles which have the textual and graphical formats and features that support the students at different times in their reading lives.

We need to know that

  • role play readers display reading-like behaviour which imitates those who read to them as they reconstruct the story for themselves, often differently each time as they use the pictures to prompt their memories. They need durable books with bright pictures that have recognisable elements and have text which incorporates rhyme, rhythm and repetition so they can join in as it is read or repeat it as they retell it.
Role-play readers know that there is meaning and enjoyment in stories.

Role-play readers know that there is meaning and enjoyment in stories.

  • experimental readers rely on their memory of familiar stories to retell them and the retelling is close to the original story as they understand that text carries a constant meaning. They rely on pictures to prompt their recall and may recognise familiar words so they need books with limited text where key words are often enlarged or in a different font; have repetitive phrases either cumulative or alliterative which they can memorise and repeat; and pictures which are lifelike and may have fun elements such as lift-the-flap. They also like stories featuring familiar characters from their favourite television series as they bring their knowledge of the situation and the character to an unfamiliar situation.

Some of the elements which support experimental readers.

  • early readers read texts slowly and deliberately, concentrating on every word and using their knowledge of the context and pictorial clues to support their meaning-making and their retelling. They are ready for new characters in new situations although they like these to mirror their own experiences and issues.  Animals and toys in human-like dilemmas allow them to discuss and reflect on their own situations, setting up the foundation for the development of critical literacy skills. They prefer their stories to be completed in one sitting although many will listen to serialised stories where there is a complete adventure in each chapter such as The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton.
  • transitional readers are able to use a variety of strategies to make meaning from texts and adapt their reading to different types of text. They understand the basics of story construction such as setting, plot and characterisation and are beginning to think critically about texts. They are making the transition from basal readers and picture books to novels which have short chapters, larger fonts and monochrome illustrations which still support the storyline. They’re willing to move beyond settings and characters with which they are familiar and into the realms of the imaginary and the fantastic.  Series are popular and they are beginning to identify favourite authors and topics.


A willingness to explore the imagninary and the fantastic take these readers to new worlds.

Books for this stage are characterised by short chapters, larger font and monochrome illustration which support the story.

Books for this stage are characterised by short chapters, larger font and monochrome illustration which support the story.

  • independent readers are just that.  They can read, retell and reflect on texts choosing from a wide range of authors, series, subjects and genres.  They have favourites and can justify their choices, and select according to need, interest and mood. They have developed the emotional connections that lifelong readers possess and share an innate love of reading.

Adapted from Reading Developmental Continnuum. Education Department of Western Australia, 1994

Even if our clientele do not span the range of readers, we should know where they have come from and to where they are headed.

Miller tells us

The path to lifelong reading habits depends on internalising a reading lifestyle along with reading skills and strategies.

And she also says

We must push ourselves to read widely in order to best serve our students – as role models who read for diverse purposes and reading advisers who know a lot about books that appeal to all types of readers.  The more widely we read, the more expterise we offer to our students.

This is where we must put on the reader’s hat.  If we are to help our students along their road to independence then we must read and read and read so we can assist them with their choices, and assist their teachers in their choices. It may be that during term time your pile of to-be-read books comprises only children’s literature but it will pay off because not only will the staff and students view you as the go-to person when they’re wondering what to read next, but it puts the library at the hub of the school’s literacy program known for a collection that is built on professional knowledge and tested against a set of selection criteria that ensures it meets certain standards.

Just as we should not let personal bias interfere with the selection of resources for the collection, so we should not let personal preferences dictate our reading selections.  Of course, as we first start to learn about the collection from the inside out, we will start with our favourite authors, topics, series and genres but we need to read beyond those boundaries so we can build a broad base of knowledge and understanding.

Many of us will have childhood favourites or those we have used in our classroom practice and which we know children enjoy and it’s worth finding these and re-reading them as a starting point.  Then start to branch out. There are many sources…

  • Publishers have regular free newsletters that you can subscribe to so you can keep up-to-date with new releases. As well as Australian publishing houses, I also subscribe to some in the US and UK which is how I had copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the shelves when students came in demanding it. 
  • Use subscription services which provide reviews and overviews from a wide range of publishers. I like Publisher’s Weekly which has a range of free e-newsletters including Children’s Bookshelf which has a plethora of articles related to children’s literature including reviews, meet-the-author, podcasts and news but others include Booklist, Horn Book, School Library Journal, Scan, and Magpies which includes The Source and The Literature Base.
  • Look at the publishers’ catalogues and websites, particularly those of the independents who often publish new authors or books with interesting topics. If you’re going to a conference or network meeting, browse the vendor displays – and perhaps pick up a bargain!
  • Learn which newspapers and periodicals promote books for your target clientele and follow their reviews and recommendations.
  • Know your students’ favourite authors as well as those who write for your students’ age group and keep tabs on their websites and blogs. There are often sneak previews, sample chapters, book trailers, information about public appearances and what they’re currently working on so you can look for them in the future.
  • Look for new authors whose work might appeal to your students by becoming familiar with the independent publishers as well as the mainstream ones.  Find the CBCA page on Facebook where new authors often let others know of their work, including that which has been self-published.
  • Browse the bookstore displays to see what’s new and recommended in a variety of genres.  Some bookstores promote staff recommendations so you can discuss possibilities with them.
  • check out second-hand stores for older titles that may no longer be in print but which are still popular
  • Look at what other TLs are posting on their library blogs and websites to discover what other students are reading
  • Seek out blogs which review the titles for your target age group.  There are many of these, particularly for YA,  and I’ve gathered some of them on Blogs About Books. Three that are great for younger readers are A Book and a Hug (have your readers take the What kind of reading superhero are you? quiz to find out what they might like); The Book Chook which has a strong Australian flavour and The Bottom Shelf where I review picture books, old and new, for the under-8s. Create your own blog where you share your reading with others.
  • Read reviews.  There are many sites and journals which are dedicated to reviewing children’s literature and I’ve collated some of these on the Read a Review page.
  • Get recommendations from other teachers and teacher librarians using your personal learning networks such as OZTL_NET. Everyone has a favourite they like to share. If schools have organised book clubs, find out what books they are focusing on.
  • Use crowd-sourcing sites such as Goodreads  and Shelfari where you can get recommendations as well as creating your own reading journal. Follow dedicated pages on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Talk to the students about what they are reading. Miss 9, an avid reader, told me that the favourite story among her peers this year was the classic Black Beauty and she was delighted when she found a copy of it among a collection of other classics on my home shelves.  She’s now reading her way through them, as well as War Horse by Michael Morpurgo which is of a similar nature to Black Beauty. One conversation and she had two pathways to follow – the classics, which may well open up new paths in themselves, and the other works of Morpurgo. 
  • Ask the students what they think you should be reading. Many will have favourites that they have sourced beyond the school library and which you need to know about and consider for the collection.  Peer recommendations are powerful, as even the most reluctant reader wants to be part of the in-crowd.
  • Keep abreast of new and upcoming releases through sites such as
  • Troll the best-of lists that come out at the end of the year from a range of sources. It’s surprising how many titles are common entries on these lists, indicating that they are worth considering.  If you want to discover the best of the best of times gone by, look for publications such as 1001 Children’s Books you must read before you grow up 


1001 Children's Books you must read before you grow up

1001 Children’s Books you must read before you grow up


  • Look at the award winners such as the Australian Children’s Book of the Year, the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal, The Kate Greenaway Medal and The Carnegie Medal
  • Look for and explore if-you-like-x-then-try… lists.  They are a great source of new titles that match an identified preference.
  • Know which books have been turned into movies, or are about to be, and read the print versions of them so both you and your students are familiar with them, but be aware that the movie’s rating may be different to that of the book.  Useful sites are…
  • Trust your experience and expertise – if you see a book that you think will appeal, read it.
  • If you want to try before you buy, check out what your public library has.  Build a relationship with your local children’s services librarian and discover what are the most commonly borrowed titles there.
  • Maintain your professional reading with books like The Book Whisperer, Reading in the Wild, Readicide, The Rights of the Reader, The Power of Reading, The Read-Aloud Handbook and Igniting a Passion for Reading. Each will help you understand how to wear your reader’s hat well.

Wear your reader’s hat in public. Let the children see you reading in those rare spare minutes that you get.  Let them see your pile of to-be-reads.  Let them see the reading goals you have set yourself and which you celebrate as you achieve them.  Let them flip through your reading journal where you keep an annotated record of what you’ve read, what you want to read and their recommendations.

If you put your reader’s hat on, they will too.