Featured Article: Creating a School Library That Meets Teachers’ Needs
I began my professional librarian career as a long-term librarian substitute. As a substitute, collection development was not part of my responsibilities, but a few years later, as a contracted school media specialist, it was. New and still working on my MLIS, collection development was something I was just starting to study. Needless to say, I focused collection development on the school library’s main collection (children’s literature) and not the small collection of 20 books that were housed in the library storage room. Those books were outdated curriculum idea books that the teachers never checked out anyways, so I did not view it as important. AR (Accelerated Reading Program) was a huge program at my school and pushed very heavily by the reading committee, reading specialist, teachers, and principal. Ultimately my entire budget was spent on AR books and AR tests that first year.
A few years later I accepted a position as a university’s Curriculum Materials Center librarian. I had much more money to spend on collection development and this library had a large teacher resource collection which I continued to expand. It was in this setting that I realized what a disservice I had done with the funds at the elementary school library that first year. After seeing the wealth of materials available to teachers and school counselors and knowing that they didn’t have the funds to purchase these on their own, I now know I should have dedicated funds specifically for teacher resource materials. Yes, spending funds on AR books and AR tests was important, but so was providing more curriculum resources to help teachers meet daily standards and learning needs. Yet I had overlooked that.
Does your school library have a good teacher resource collection? If not, why not develop that collection this school year. 20% of your yearly budget is a good place to start. Don’t know where to begin? Ask teachers for recommendations. Don’t know where to look for these types of books? Publishers such as Jossey-Bass, Scholastic, Teacher Created Materials, and Heinemann all have an extensive collection of teacher resources, some with additional resources online. Afraid the resources won’t get checked out? Send emails to teachers when you receive new resources. Need additional help? Call or visit a university’s Curriculum Materials Center/Education Library. Also, as additional help, we have listed 10 curriculum resources in our Thematic Reading List that are wonderful additions to any school library.
Collection development has become one of my favorite tasks as a librarian. It allows me to support trends that are happening in education and publishing. It lets me support teachers and staff in a very important way. What librarian doesn’t love the arrival of new books and seeing their impact!
We at CLCD wish every librarian, teacher, school employee, parent, and student a successful year of learning and a year filled with magnificent books.