Collections and collection management

School library collections need to be thoughtfully managed.

How you manage your library's collection is important to the success of learning and literacy in your school. Your collection will better meet your school’s needs if it's balanced, inclusive and managed through well-planned processes.

What makes a library collection

A library collection is made up of all the physical and electronic items that have been curated with a specific audience or purpose in mind. Your library collection needs to develop and change in response to the communities it serves and what resources are available.

Having a wide range of high-quality information resources available … enables students to develop information skills, fosters their critical thinking skills, and extends their interests and their knowledge of the world and its cultures.
— The School Library and Learning in the Information Landscape: Guidelines for New Zealand schools (p.37), National Library

Creating a balanced and inclusive collection

School libraries aim to provide a balanced, inclusive, relevant and targeted range of resources in a variety of formats that support the teaching and learning needs of everyone in the school community. This aim will guide your collection management process.

Working out your library's collection requirements

An inclusive and balanced collection acknowledges and reflects all the members of your school community.

Building an inclusive collection

The collection management cycle

Managing your school library's collection works as a cycle or process. Where you start in the cycle depends on your circumstances.


Planning includes:

  • working out what should be in your collection, based on your school community’s priorities and other factors
  • developing a vision for your collection
  • creating a collection management plan.

Working out your library's collection requirements

Developing a collection management plan

Selecting resources

You need to know how you’ll find, choose and buy resources for your collection. You’ll also need to work out what you do when you get gifts or donations, or someone complains about an item in your collection.

Selecting resources for your collection

Receiving donations

Complaints about library items


Managing your collection includes knowing how you catalogue resources and manage their circulation, as well as other library processes.

Library systems and operations


For many decisions about collection management, you’ll need a good knowledge of your collection. You’ll need to find out:

  • which areas are well covered
  • where there are gaps in the collection, and
  • how well it provides for the needs of your students.

Assessing your school library collection


Sometimes called ‘deselection’, weeding is the process of regularly removing or culling outdated or irrelevant resources from your collection. You’ll need to decide why, when and how to weed items from your collection and who should be involved.

Weeding your school library collection