Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The School Library Collection and the Digital Environment

The introduction to this week's module speaks of a “tide of events”, which is changing how school libraries function. This is due to the ongoing digital revolution, changing educational practices, and the preferences and information seeking behaviours of students and teachers.
The school library collection is crucial to teaching and learning. Teacher-librarians are challenged to provide a physical and a digital collection that will meet the curriculum needs of students and staff. Will technology ever replace picture books?
John Kennedy (2006), in the set text for this subject, entitled Collection Management: A concise introduction (rev. ed.), he establishes that “collection management is a set of interrelated activities focusing on the selection, acquisition, evaluation, preservation and deselection (or weeding) of library materials” (p 1).
Kennedy indicates that there are similarities between the definitions of collection management and collection development. Collection development occurs when the growth of resources is the main focus of the acquisition activities, such as when a new unit of studies is introduced into the curriculum. Collection management refers to the maintenance of the collection, by evaluating the use of resources and making deselection decisions.
Glossary definitions:
Selection is the branch of collection management concerned with deciding which items will be added to a library collection.
Acquisition is the activity of obtaining what has been selected for inclusion in the collection.
Deselection is the removal from a collection of materials judged no longer to merit a place there.
Evaluation is the process of determining the worth of a collection in terms of its ability to satisfy the wants and needs of clients and fulfill the goals of the library.
Collection development policy is a publicly available document which sets out the library’s collecting philosophy and goals, describes in some detail the type of materials it holds and collects, and outlines policy on other matters relating to the collection.
ASLA/ALIA (2001) has published a collection development policy definition in Learning for the Future. The policy is described as, “An information services centre policy outlining principles and guidelines for the selection of curriculum materials, allocation of the resources budget, and ongoing management of collections” (p 75). The definition is more specific than Kennedy’s. It is comprehensively elaborated on in the following two publications.
Learning for the Future provides a chapter entitled Resourcing the Curriculum which offers many references to the teacher-librarian’s role in collection development/collection management.
SLAV (1996) also refers to the role of the teacher-librarian in the context of resourcing the curriculum throughout its guide Skilling Up. In addition to the collection development and management role of the teacher-librarian, each chapter includes professional duties and operational tasks that pertain to the development and management of the school library collection.
Doug Johnson (2010) argues that online reading is changing the reading habits of society. Last year I read the article in the SCIS Connections journal, when it was published in March. In a discussion with my sister-in-law, a fellow teacher, I stated in an email to her that I “was a little startled by some of the revelations of the current reading habits and predictions of the future ‘post literate’ society.” Having recently read the article again, and with a year of hindsight (and a Kindle on my bedside table), I believe that people will not lose their interest in reading. Rather, they will read using various forms of technology and mobile reading devices. Johnson is being overly dramatic in his reaction to alternatives to print resources that are available. The convenience that is offered by electronic will not kill literacy. Johnson’s article can be found at: http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/connections_72.pdf.
Mal Lee (2010) in the journal, SCIS Connections, presents a persuasive vision of schools “morphing into information services” (p 5). I was reminded of an excellent conference that was hosted by SLAV on 22 March, 2010, entitled “Let’s Make the Whole School a Library”. This conference focussed on the same prediction as Lee, who states that “where the use of digital is normal in every classroom, each classroom becomes a digital teaching hub and thus a ‘state of the art library’ (p 5). The teacher-librarian would be known as the Director of Information Services, who would oversee the total use of all manner of digital and information technologies. Lee’s article can be found at: http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/a_library_without_books_1_2.html
Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Jaqueline Mancall’s e-book offers a good review of how teaching and learning styles have changed from the empty vessel notion to that of inquiry learning, where students express what they already know about a topic, then conduct their own independent research to discover the answers.
The article by Bishop deals with the assessing the community before making collection development decisions. By researching the local area via the historical society and the public library, useful details will emerge regarding the historical background of the suburb and the school’s development.
Kilbreda College was established in Mentone, a bayside suburb of Melbourne. The handsome Italianate building was built in the boom era of the 1880s. It originally operated as a coffee palace, providing a tee-totalling alternative to nearby hotels.  With a historical society and a council building positioned in the same street, Kilbreda College’s history is easy to research. A book entitled A View From the Tower was written to commemorate the college’s centenary and another, Mentone Through the Ages, includes many facts and anecdotes about the school. Kilbreda’s archive is also very well resourced, and it is currently being displayed in a newly built area of the main office. Bishop’s article can be found at: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/bishop-k.pdf.

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