Selecting quality materials that will be well used by your school community is important work that can be complex and time-consuming. You'll need to:
Gathering information about new resources
Build up a network of sources to inform your decisions and keep up-to-date, including:
- following other libraries, publishers, and booksellers websites through social media
- checking book recommendation sites
- accessing publisher's catalogue sites and requesting advance review copies
- staying in contact with local booksellers and other suppliers
- networking with other school library staff
- subscribing to reviewing journals and websites.
Besides print journals, many reviewing journals are available online. There are also many excellent websites that include reviews of books for children and young adults.
Useful websites for school library collection development (LiveBinder) — includes links to reviewers, publishers, booksellers and other sites curated by Carole Gardiner of Queen’s High School in Dunedin
Assessing available resources
Start by assessing what you currently have in your collection. By looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the materials, the assessment will help you decide what you need to add to your collection.
You can use our template to help you decide what you need in your collection.
Assessing your school library collection
Selecting a range of materials
Your library collection provides a range of resources that meets teachers' and students’ needs within and outside the curriculum.
Building an inclusive collection
Materials that support the curriculum
When choosing resources to support the curriculum, think about underlying learning area and achievement objectives, rather than specific topics. For example, if you want something on the topic of bullying, think about the curriculum area of Health and Physical Education — Relationships with other people, or if your topic is metals, consider Science — Material World.
New Zealand Curriculum: Achievement Objectives by Learning Area (pdf)
Non-fiction texts — including digital resources and magazines — are important to support the curriculum and for recreational readers who prefer real-world accounts of people, places, things, and events. They spark curiosity, help students develop a greater knowledge of the world, find out more about what interests them and what's important to them.
A balanced collection will appeal to a wide range of reader interests and abilities. Aim to include:
- literary fiction — what you might think of as contemporary and older ‘classic’ titles — as well as a broad selection of commercial mainstream fiction
- a diversity of genres, points of view, settings, themes and writing styles
- light reading as well as texts that extend and challenge readers
- a range of formats — picture books, graphic novels, novels, and perhaps digital works such as eBooks, audiobooks, and film.
Children's and youth literature
Alternative formats and sources
Instead of buying new materials, you might be able to use:
- inquiry and reading engagement loans from the National Library
- high-interest topics in the Topic Explorer on the National Library website
- websites and other materials available online, including Open Education resources that you can share with teachers.
Topic Explorer guide
Keeping track of potential resources
Keeping track of the titles you're considering buying can help with your purchasing process. For example, you can use a simple spreadsheet to record information about resources you're interested in — sometimes called a consideration file. Make a note of:
- title and author
- who has recommended or requested the item
- potential suppliers
- other helpful information about the item.
You could also track potential resources on suppliers' websites by:
- using their ‘wishlist’ function, if they have one — you can often make notes about titles you're considering
- adding items to your shopping cart and leaving them there until you’re ready to buy.
Purchasing new resources
Ordering and purchasing materials — referred to as acquisition — is usually spread across each term. This helps ensure a flow of new materials throughout the year and that you have materials on hand that are relevant to topic and curriculum needs.
These 5 steps help you manage your ordering and purchasing.
- Before ordering, check that you don’t have the item or that you haven’t ordered it already.
- Decide on a supplier. Make price comparisons and weigh up other factors such as how soon you need an item against its availability and their delivery times.
- Prepare your order and submit it to the supplier. Make sure you follow your school’s procedures for getting approval to purchase items. Check if you need an order number. If so, record the number on all documents related to the order.
- Track and confirm delivery against your order. When it arrives, check the order against the invoice to see that you've received everything you ordered. Chase up items you didn't receive (back orders) as early as possible.
- Process materials as soon as possible so that invoices are paid on time, discrepancies are followed up quickly and new items are available to users as soon as possible.
You must keep accurate records for every purchase.
Your Integrated Library System (ILS) may include an acquisitions module for managing your orders. If so, refer to the ILS documentation available from your software vendor for further information.
Keep a record of:
- all the items you've ordered or received, including copies of the purchase order and invoice with any approvals or signatures you need, and any notes or related correspondence
- all expenditure — reconcile this regularly with information from your school's accounting system.
If you use a spreadsheet for recording expenditure against your budget, include all acquisitions spending in the appropriate section of this file. You can also note any items purchased using funds targeted for a specific purpose.
Library budget with Google docs (VIDEO, 5:16) — how to set up a simple Google Docs spreadsheet to track your library budget