Resourcing the Curriculum
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As information managers and specialists (ALIA & ASLA, 2016), teacher librarians ensure the curriculum is well-resource to support teaching and learning. They do this by working across faculties which positions them to best develop and manage information resources across the school. The relationships built with faculties and a wide range of curriculum knowledge allow teacher librarians to acquire meaningful and timely resources for staff and students.
Through studying ETL503: Resourcing the Curriculum, I came to understand the importance and necessity of Collection Development Policies [CDPs] for school libraries. Additionally, through the virtual study visits of other information agencies, the importance of these policies was further emphasised. Across agencies, these policy documents, if available and used well, are not static tick-a-box documents. They are used actively to ensure consistent decisions are made regarding the acquisition, weeding and use of resources. They also assist library staff in preparing and responding to challenges by ensuring clear selection processes, and intellectual freedom and access to information principles are outlined (American Library Association, 2018). In ETL503, we were warned that weeding is a hotly contested and controversial practice amongst non-library staff. Throwing out books is often considered tantamount to the great burning of the books seen throughout history – perhaps most notably in China during the Qin dynasty and Germany during WWII. In my experience working as a teacher librarian, I have now seen first-hand
the grave concern school community members have when a weeding process is taking place. Books that were mouldy, food stained, or dangerously out of date, have on several occasions been pulled from bins and returned heroically to the library. Thankfully, by having clear and publicly available weeding policies and procedures, these decisions were justified but not without some consternation. Reflecting on my blog posts from ETL503, I was reminded of the MUSTY or MUSTIE weeding acronym - Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, Trivial, Your collection has no use for it/Irrelevant to your context, easily obtained Elsewhere (debmille, 2011; Larson, 2012). These tests are useful reminders when weeding and help to form part of the larger policy which outlines the mission of the library. Importantly, “poorly maintained collections do not meet the vision or mission of school libraries because they make resource selection difficult and limited” (Harrison, 2018a). The strategic nature of CDPs justifies and advocates the activities of school libraries and other information agencies thus, are integral to clarifying the agency’s mission and position as a valuable organisation.
Aligning CDPs with curriculum priorities such as the Australian Curriculum cross-curriculum priorities [CCPs], general capabilities, and subject content descriptors ensures the library’s collection supports the school’s, and wider educational body’s, mission. Specifically, through the assessment completed in ETL503 I was able to apply these principles to develop relevant resource lists in the form of an annotated bibliography, which provided succinct summaries of print and digital resources, highlighted links to curriculum through CCPs and content descriptors, and provided suggested learning experiences to embed the resources meaningfully into learning experiences. This was an invaluable experience, as I was able to present the annotated bibliography to my Head of English as part of a collaborative resource selection process and I have since developed several more of these lists.
CDPs would benefit from having a balance of a curriculum focus and a learner-centred, constructivist approach (Harrison, 2018b). In this way, libraries would provide resources that are relevant to the learning directed by educational authorities but also stay abreast of changes in users’ information thinking. Dynamic information landscapes mean teacher librarians must be adaptive to changing modes of information and the needs and preferences of information users. As characteristic of our multi-format information world (Hay & Todd, 2010), school libraries must provide a balance of print and digital information and the capacity to find, identify, select, and obtain information with ease. Teacher librarians are therefore also curators of digital content and thus digital-literacy specialists. When writing about innovation in education author George Couros (2017) reflected that innovation is “how we think and what we create, not what we use”. In this sense, innovation in school library resourcing could mean carefully considering the changes in how library users think and create rather than a blinkered focus on the latest gadget or information trend. As Hutchinson (2017) suggested, a focus on process not product is where school libraries really excel. This process can be in the form of collection development processes and user thinking and working processes.
A well-resourced school library does not equate to an effective school library on its on merit. The school library must also be used. As iterated by Hutchinson (2017), unless teachers and students are encouraged to use the library, information literacy skills will wane and as a result “students will struggle to become independent learners” as they may not have the capacity to find or access information. Teacher librarians must engage in the conversation to promote the benefits of information literacy and the place of the library in these processes. Without building relationships with teachers and students and without engaging in collaboration to jointly-acquire resources, libraries run the risk of providing irrelevant or unengaging resources, which may eventually render the library obsolete. Resourcing the school library with processes at the forefront and users as part of the conversation will strengthen the relevance and usability of the collection.
Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association. (2016). ALIA-ASLA joint statement on library and information services in schools. Australian Library and Information Association. https://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/alia-asla-joint-statement-library-and-information-services-schools
Couros, G. (2017, January 16). Innovation is a process, not a product. George Couros. https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6999
debmille. (2011). Weeding not just for gardens. Slideshare. http://www.slideshare.net/debmille/weeding-not-just-for-gardens
Harrison, N. (2018a, April 21). Why weeding? The concept library. https://noniharrison.wixsite.com/why-weeding
Harrison, N. (2018b, April 27). Resourcing the curriculum: Collection development. The concept library. https://noniharrison.wixsite.com/resourcing-the-curriculum-collection-development
Hutchinson, E. (2017). Navigating the information landscape through collaboration. Issues, (101), 8-9. https://www.scisdata.com/media/1484/connections101.pdf
Hay, L. & Todd, R. J. (2010). School libraries 21C: School library futures project. Report for New South Wales
Department of Education and Training, Curriculum K-12 Directorate, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit. Charles Sturt University Research Output. https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/en/publications/school-libraries-21c-school-library-futures-project-report-for-ne-4
Larson, J. (2012). CREW: A weeding manual for modern libraries. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/ld/pubs/crew/crewmethod12.pdf