Whether you are selecting fiction, non-fiction, e-books, websites, multimedia, or other digital resources, we offer criteria to help guide your decisions.
Responsibility for selection of resources
Factors to consider when planning your resource selection
How to gather background information for good selection
Selection criteria for library resources
Selection criteria for donations
Selection guides – reviewing journals and websites
The key to developing a well-resourced, relevant library collection is the excellent liaison between your library team and your school’s teachers. The make-up of the library team varies from school to school.
Liaison may involve a team approach, or a Teacher with Library Responsibility, Teacher Librarian, or Library Manager consulting with teachers to ensure key topic needs are met, and that the profile of reading levels is taken into account during the selection process.
- Gaps in your present collection – in curriculum topic coverage, and recreational reading needs of your students
- Impact of changing technologies, such as e-books and e-book readers, their availability as well as the initial and ongoing costs for your school
- Range of reading levels across your school and your school’s demographic profile: note key information on the School community profile form
- Whether the school library is the only source of information and reading for your students, or whether they also have easy access to other libraries
- The desired balance between print, audio-visual and digital resources, especially for topics which require the most current information
- The range of different learning purposes and styles in your school – these will require resources in a variety of formats
- Policy guidance outlined in your school library’s collection guiding statement
- Your collection will include fiction, non-fiction, magazines and reference materials, whether in digital, audio-visual or print format.
1. Liaise with your school library users
- Teachers have specialist knowledge of curriculum areas, classroom programmes and student use of resources. Ask for their suggestions, and keep a record of these.
- A short online survey emailed to staff may produce better returns than pieces of paper – ask about topic gaps for their teaching subject, as well as suggestions for print or online resources.
- You may be able to share the costs of some resources e.g. magazine subscriptions shared with subject departments
- Student input is vital. You need to find out their reading interests, and involve your student librarians in helping with selection, including selection of e-books.
- Consult with the teacher/s who analyse reading test results, and ask them to explain the summarised results – and discuss what this means for library buying
- A library blog, to which students and staff can contribute, is another way you can attract comments and recommendations – as well as promoting what the library can offer.
- Communicate often – ensuring that teachers and library staff can enjoy casual conversations that develop rapport and trust, resulting in strong partnerships and collaborations that help build strong library collections.
2. Seek reviews and recommendations
- Subscribe to a variety of reviewing journals, either print or online
- Read reviews in newspapers, magazines, blogs, listservs and websites
- Refer to the comprehensive list within this guide: Selection guides – reviewing journals and websites
- The SLANZA Reading site includes lists of recommendations from school librarians around New Zealand
3. Liaise with bookshops and publishers’ representatives
- Where possible, visit good bookshops, including specialist children’s booksellers and talk to experienced staff about their stock
- Arrange for publishers’ and booksellers’ representatives to visit the school with material that you have specifically requested. If possible arrange for material to be supplied on approval prior to purchase.
- Watch impulse buying – especially at sales or at book displays, to ensure that what you buy is up-to-date and meets an actual need
- Order New Zealand publications promptly as they are published in small print runs and can go out of print quickly.
- Take advantage of free trials of online products
4. Liaise with other agencies
- Consult appropriate educational advisory agencies for recommendations e.g. Resource Teachers of Literacy, Curriculum Advisers
- National Library’s 0800 LIB LINE (0800 542 5463) may be able to help with recommendations
- If usage of resources on a specific topic is likely to be low, try borrowing items for that topic from the National Library instead of buying. Check our High interest topics for online resources.
Whether you are selecting fiction, non-fiction, e-books, websites, multimedia, or other digital resources, we offer the following criteria to help guide your decisions.
This is not an exhaustive list – and some criteria may apply more to digital formats than to print.
- Do you need the item – does it fill a gap in your collection?
- Is it relevant to the curriculum and / or learning needs / interests of your students?
- Will your students be able to read it?
- What level of usage would you expect for this item?
- Is it good value for money?
- Is it up-to-date and accurate?
- Which format is going to be more useful – digital, audio-visual or print?
- Is it attractive to your readers – from the cover or homepage design to the standard of its visual content?
- Is it physically durable?
- Is the information displayed and organised well for the intended users, easy to navigate, with help pages clear and concise?
- Is the font size appropriate for intended readership; and (for books) do the contents, index and page numbering allow easy access to information?
- Is the information free from unacceptable bias or stereotyping?
Three websites offering practical guidance for selection and weeding:
Arizona State Libraries
Sponsored by the Arizona State Library, this excellent section on Collection Development Training includes guidelines for selection, weeding, and related policies. Aimed at librarians in small public libraries, but also relevant to school libraries.
School library support, Department of Education and Training, Western Australia
General guidelines for selecting quality school library resources. Also contains links to the Children’s Book Council of Australia.
From Olin and Uris Libraries, Cornell University: Five criteria for evaluating Web pages: a one-page simple guide, practical and highly readable.
- Apply the same selection criteria to donated resources as to other resources.
- Do make sure that the donor understands that acceptance of donations is not automatic, and ask what they would like done with any donations the library does not want. They may ask for unwanted items to be returned, or they may leave it to the library to dispose of them.
- Refer to your school’s collection guiding statement for guidance on handling donations.
In addition to print journals, many reviewing journals are available online full text. There are also many excellent websites that include reviews of books for children and young adults. The following list has been chosen not only for quality book reviews, but also for reviews of multimedia and educational websites, ICT trends, and professional resources for the library team.
All URLs were checked at time of publication, April 2012. However, the Internet is dynamic, and websites can and do change without notice.
This entertaining and informative English website is dedicated to promoting children’s books and writers. It includes author interviews, reviews, and a lively blog, Achockablog. Great links.
Around the Bookshops
Marigold Enterprises, PO Box 22180, Khandallah, Wellington 6441. For book reviews and a wide range of author profiles and book-related information. Good coverage of a wide range of titles available in New Zealand bookshops. Useful for primary to early secondary. Published every three months. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian School Library Association (NSW) Inc.(ASLA)
Although Australian in focus, this web site from the NSW branch of ASLA is international in scope, offering a large selection of resource reviews and links relevant to teachers and school library staff. Includes themed book lists and reviews, teaching information about books and reading, literacy links, curriculum connections and publisher information.
Books for Keeps
Books for Keeps, the children’s book magazine online. Book reviews, articles and author / illustrator interviews. Thousands of reviews of children’s books archived on website. Subscribe online to receive a regular newsletter by email.
Boys into Books
School Library Association UK (SLA) have produced online versions of Riveting Reads plus Boys into Books, providing annotated lists of books arranged by theme and broad age-groups, for readers aged 5-14.
Christchurch City Libraries
Refer to the Kids section. This includes many reading lists for children. For resource recommendations for and by teens, try The Pulse, especially Read and the Reviews.
Create Readers Blog
Produced by Services to Schools, National Library, this popular site provides succinct reviews of a wide range of books for readers from primary to senior secondary, as well as links to information on research into reading.
High Interest Topics
The High Interest Topics list, reflecting seasonal topic demand on the National Library's Curriculum Services, offers a short list of selected e-resources under each curriculum topic. This topic list is added to regularly, with updates to topics and e-resources, to ensure seasonally popular topics are covered in advance of the expected high demand period.
The Literature Base
Four issues per year: Feb, May, July & October. Practical ideas for using children’s literature in the classroom, as well as children’s literature articles, book lists for topic areas, and book reviews. NZ subscriptions to both The Literature Base and Magpies ordered online from Magpies.
Australian publication. Five issues per year: March, May, July, September, November. For subscription information see entry for The Literature Base above. This invaluable selection tool includes in depth ‘Know the Author’ interviews and a wide array of book reviews. Includes an 8-page New Zealand Supplement.
This site “for intelligent young readers who are keen to choose their books” is written and produced by Jill Marshall, former lawyer and teacher, UK. Reading Matters includes detailed book reviews, articles on ideas and concepts behind selected books, and themed book lists, as well as an interactive Bookchooser function, and a Lucky Dip.
Journal of the Australian Children’s Book Council. Published quarterly, its brief is to review all books for children and young adults published in Australia, as well as many from New Zealand, and selected titles from other countries. Includes author / illustrator information and reviews. Contact: The Secretary, Reading Time, P O Box 4062, Ashmont, NSW 2650, Australia.
Published by the NSW Department of Education and Training, Australia. Enquiries: email@example.com. Moving from print to online in 2012, with the first interactive issue available in May. An excellent resource for teachers and school library staff, covering information literacy and supporting reading, with articles on integrating ICT in teaching and learning, research columns and book reviews, as well as practical ideas for school library management
The School Library
New Zealand Book Council, Level 4, Stephenson and Turner House, 156 Victoria St, Te Aro Wellington 6011. The Book Council’s Education site links to their e-journal The School Library (formerly BRAT) with book reviews by Crissi Blair, editor of NZ Children’s Books in Print, and interviews with authors participating in the Writers in Schools programme. Reviews published in The School library since 2000 are archived on the website.
School Library Journal
Reed Business Information / Reviews, 160 Varick St, New York NY 10013, USA.
12 issues per year. Extensive book review section, principally covering the North American market, as well as a wide range of articles on reading, information literacy, ICT and learning, and reviews of online and multimedia resources, aimed at librarians and media specialists who work with children and young adults in schools and public libraries. Also available full text on EPIC via EBSCO’s Australia New Zealand Reference Center (accessed via TKI).
SCIS Web OPAC
Subscription required. Schools Catalogue Information Service, from Australia, has the largest database of catalogue records for schools, in the Southern Hemisphere. SCIS adds new educational websites to its listings each month. Check out their Special Order Files for the latest website records, or search their Web OPAC.
A useful online tool for picture book and fiction selection, The Source provides a reference guide to children’s books, poetry, short stories, and awards. NZ content included, compiled by Trevor Agnew. From the same publisher as The Literature Base and Magpies. Requires a separate subscription.
5 issues per year. Also available online as Digital Teacher Librarian. An invaluable resource for the school library professional. Includes reviews of books, multimedia and internet sites, Web 2.0 and 21st century literacy tools, and articles on constructive use of the Internet in education, information literacy and problem solving. Now available full text via EBSCO’s Australia New Zealand Reference Center on EPIC (accessed via TKI).
Wellington City Libraries
Check out Stuff for Kids, which includes book reviews sent in by children, and Things for Teens pages. Homework help pages include many useful links.