• Noni Harrison

Resourcing the Curriculum: Priorities

Priorities and issues The role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) encompasses the development of efficacious policies that enhance the library users’ experience. Specifically, effective collection development policies are an integral part of the success of school libraries. Criteria must be carefully considered and prioritised to address selection issues during the development process. A learner-centred, constructivist approach requires libraries meet all learners’ needs across the school context by providing a balanced collection with a range of high-quality, curriculum- appropriate resources in a range of formats. The needs of the curriculum and community must be prioritised within a selection policy. TLs have an overarching understanding of the needs of the school community and curriculum; therefore, should use this knowledge to select appropriate resources. It is evident that qualified TLs enhance student outcomes by applying their expertise in selecting resources that meet these needs (Hughes, 2013; Klinger, Lee, Stephenson, Deluce & Luu, 2009; McKerracher, 2015). Selection priorities should also be addressed through collaboration with the learning community and analysis of their needs through mapping activities that connect resources with curriculum outcomes (Lamb, 2011; Wall & Ryan, 2010). Additionally, TLs should access school profile data, such as the demographic profile and NAPLAN data to ensure the collection is equitable (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), 2008). This requires that the collection provides a balance of fiction and non-fiction texts in various formats and reading levels. To determine the balance of resources, TLs must first consider the preferences of the information users. In this way, the collection can meet a variety of teaching and learning styles and needs across the curriculum. Selection issues that must be considered include; the breadth of resources, censorship, cost and licensing for digital resources. A key selection issue is ensuring the breadth of the collection provides quality resources that address the needs of users. The quantity of resources continues to grow with increased means of publication, which poses issues for TLs to assess quality and to consult multiple selection aids when making acquisition decisions.

Censorship is also an issue in considering the breadth of resources in the collection. Libraries are discouraged from censoring material, as free flow of ideas must be promoted; therefore, individuals need the skills to evaluate resources (Australian Library and Information Association, 2015). According to Cooper this “promotes responsible democratic citizenship” (2010, p. 219). Finally, the cost of resources can be the ultimate determining factor; therefore, consultation with the learning community can ensure the budget is spent appropriately (Wall & Ryan, 2010). If the cost it too high, TLs may make the resource available through community partners where possible (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005). Licensing for digital resources is also an issue, as TLs must consider the implications of different models on access and cost. These selection issues must be addressed in collection development policies to enhance library services. School libraries are connected to the school community in a way that can enhance the outcomes and information experiences of all users. To provide effective services, libraries must prioritise a range of criteria to assess resources and address issues appropriately. A tangible collection development policy ensures equitable processes are followed and the needs of the community are met, specifically related to students’ curriculum, interest and developmental needs.

Collection Development in Practice

The cross-curriculum priorities (CCPs) are areas identified by the Melbourne Declaration (MD) to be integral to the development of learners. Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia (AAEA) is one such CCP that must be addressed across the curriculum. In order to address this requirement, school libraries must provide effective resources that support teaching and learning needs.

AAEA is present across all learning areas to ensure concepts are addressed in various contexts. Australia’s shared history with Asia is defined by strong engagement in social, political, economic and environmental realms (Australian Government, 2012). For this relationship to prosper, Australia must engage productively with Asia and educate students about the importance of cross-cultural understandings. In response to the MD goals, the CCP requires students to engage with three key concepts; Asia and its diversity; achievements and contributions of the peoples of Asia; and Asia-Australia engagement (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2016). As participants in the Asian region it is vital for students to develop their expertise in Asian literacy to contribute effectively in the region and become active and informed citizens (MCEETYA, 2008). Thus, the curriculum must be resourced to support this learning. CDPs should reflect these priorities to ensure the collection caters to these specific and regulated outcomes.

The school context effects the delivery of the CCP and the nature of resources needed. The role of the TL requires they support this CCP by applying their understanding of curriculum when selecting resources for the school context (ASLA, 2014). Firstly, TLs support teachers through collaboration and professional development, as they may find resource selection difficult and may feel ill-equipped to teach their students about Asian perspectives (ASLA & ALIA, 2004; Henderson, Allen, & Mallan, 2013). The subjects offered by a school, access to technology, and school profile markedly effect selection and delivery methods. Whilst the AC requires all schools offer the eight learning areas by 2020, the extent to which these are covered is determined by each school (Queensland Government Department of Education, 2018). Specifically, Marist College Ashgrove (MCA) offers Civics and Citizenship as a stand-alone subject, and Religion therefore, these must be resourced. Additionally, students have their own device; therefore, digital resources such as eBooks and apps form part of the collection. The 2017 NAPLAN results indicate a majority of each cohort reads above national minimum standards (ACARA, 2017); however, the diversity of reading levels is still widespread. Of the 1613 students in Years 5-12, 2% are Indigenous and 5% have English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) (ACARA, 2017). Also, each subject offers one adjusted class. These students’ specific needs must be met by selecting appropriate reading levels and resources that include literacy support including, glossaries and text-to-speech capabilities .

Furthermore, print and digital resources that reflect the diversity of the school community should be embedded in the collection. Grasso explains multicultural literature helps break down cultural barriers and promotes empathy and unity (2016); therefore, successful resourcing of the CCP and cultural representation can enhance relationships across the wider school community.

Effective collection development must include a clear selection policy and criteria. Steps taken when beginning the collection development process include:

  • Conducting curriculum mapping to identify needs according to standard elaborations, outcomes, CCPs and general capabilities;

  • Conducting collection mapping to determine gaps in the collection (Wall & Ryan, 2010);

  • Assessing the needs of the user community; including, learning styles and reading levels (Johnson, 2009);

  • Identifying special groups that require support; including, EAL/D, and adjusted classes;

  • Collaborating with classroom and specialist teachers.


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