Size does matter when talking about School Libraries but I would argue that quality matters more. There is little point in having a library full of books that have no interest to the users and are therefore not borrowed, that contribute little to the curriculum and therefore have little value for teachers, or are so old that they may misinform students.
This really is a question of creating a balanced collection for users. When putting together the budget for my Library this year I was presented with this conundrum – on entering the Library there seemed to be many resources available, but after exploring them, the amount of the collection that I would now consider to be “effective” (ALIA Schools and Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians, 2007), is quite limited and much of it is over ten years old. I have a very big weeding task ahead of me!
Using recommended reading lists such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge, purchasing a range of Children’s Books Council Awards Shortlisted books, with the priority of those that can also be used for topics and themes undertaken in the classroom has improved the collection somewhat. Of course, with the introduction of the Australian Curriculum this year and looking forward over the next five years, curriculum mapping has become an integral part of collection development, and therefore budgeting.
Promoting, through displays and reading challenges, specific good quality literature and genres that students may not have explored as yet has also generated greater breadth and depth of reading, so these strategies will continue. Investigating options to extend the audio collection, as well as introducing e-books into the collection is a priority over the next few years as well. This assists our 98% English as an Additional Language students and provides teachers with opportunities to model engagement with the text when using the text on interactive whiteboards.
However, my key learning from putting together my first Library budget this year was assumptions about who pays for what. I have become a far better negotiator now and have cost sharing arrangements for specific projects with the English Committee and the Technology Committee. I will be better prepared for next year having a clearer understanding of the major events to plan for throughout the year and the usage of consumables. Clearly, I’m on a steep learning curve when it comes to budgeting for a School Library.
Chapter 3: Budgeting policies and procedures (pp. 12-17) in A Manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian school library resources centres (ALIA Schools and Victorian Catholic Teacher Librarians, 2007)