Current Process in School X
The current policy document outlines a Collection Centred Model as defined by Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005 p. 6) for selecting books and journals, but it does not take account into the wide range of digital resources now accessible to students and the devices that they might view those resources on.
Teacher Librarians assume the position research expert however there is no quality selection criterion outlined in the School X Library Policy. Teachers and Heads of Faculty are required to inform the Library of a resource that might be useful for purchasing therefore focusing on bought resources rather than ones freely available.
The resource evaluation procedure outlined in School X collection policy is stated as being “a continuous process” rather than a methodology that might be engaged at the planning or evaluation stage of a unit of work. This is a weakness of the current system as there is no clear understanding between the teachers and library staff as to when resource selection and acquisition is occurs in relation to the budget process because it is a “continuous process”. Often selection of resources occurs incidentally rather than intentionally and when resources are needed they are often put on hold due to budget constraints.
Meeting Learner Needs
As there is no formal process for evaluating the appropriateness of the collection in meeting curriculum needs, informal questioning and observation was conducted with several Year 9 Humanities classes when they were working in the School X Library. It was identified that while students had access to rich print based resources located exclusively in the Library, the online web sites that they were locating were simplistic and often created for an assignment in another school with no quality management over authority or content (Latham & Poe 2008). Student information literacy skills proved to be quite weak when they were questioned over why they chose certain resources to use. Observed Google searches highlighted the need to strengthen their online searching skills and often more authentic and reliable online resources were overlooked because they were perceived as difficult to locate.
In line with the Australian National Curriculum, resources sought needed to support formation of historical inquiry skills and provide information that could be used in an historical argument (ACARA 2011a). Resources need to be both primary and secondary sourced and allow for students to develop a depth of understanding and knowledge about the topic with resources that are authoritative (Latham & Poe 2008, Johnson 2002) not incidental.
The process undertaken to obtain the resources for Year 9 Humanities involved a search of what was available, but not identified in the course outline, through the school’s subscription services and then the use of external subject specific web sites. These included; Informit: TV News, Britannica Encyclopaedia, Australian History Mysteries and BrainPop.
In addition to current school based resources the following web sites were engaged in the search for appropriate resources: Digital Book Archive (http://www.digitalbookindex.org/), National Digital Learning Resources Network (http://www.ndlrn.edu.au/default.asp) and National Archive’s of Australia (http://www.naa.gov.au/).
The concept of an elastic library collection takes advantage of the flexibility nature of e-resources Loertscher (2002 p. 4). The way in which an eBook is used is often very different to print media. Digital Natives with highly developed information literacy skills can extract the information they need from an eBook efficiently. Sites such as Burrowes Educational (http://www.educationalbooks.com.au/) provide the opportunity to purchase eBooks with Audiobook components, which might be well suited to some learners. Unfortunately School X currently has no function within their library to accommodate the storage or borrowing of eBooks or eResources.
Ideally the selection and acquisition process in the school should be embedded into the learning culture of the school. Taking advantage of the cycle of curriculum development to evaluate the usefulness of resources at the end of each unit and involving the Teacher Librarians in the identification of new resources when curriculum planning every season. Hughes-Hassell and Mancall’s (2005 p 8) ‘Collaborative Access Environment’ model of collection management would provide the library with a framework to establish a systematic and strategic process for managing a collection and resource database for teachers and students.
ACARA. (2011a), Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum: History, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Online Resource: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/History/Curriculum/F-10. Accessed on 31 March, 2012
Hughes-Hassell, S. and Mancall, J. (2005). Collection Management for Youth: Responding to the Needs of Learners [eBook]. ALA Editions. Accessed on 9 March 2012
Latham, B., & Poe, J. (2008). Evaluation and selection of new format materials : electronic resources. In J. R. Kennedy, L. Vardaman & G. B. McCabe (Eds.), Our new public, a changing clientele : bewildering issues or new challenges for managing libraries (pp. 257-265). Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited.
Loertscher, D.V. (2002). Digital and elastic collections in school libraries: A challenge for school library media centres. School libraries in Canada, 21(4), 3.