Building an inclusive collection

School libraries have an important role in supporting student achievement by providing relevant, diverse and inclusive collections for all students.


Inclusive collections
Knowing your users
Accessing digital resources
Providing information resources for priority learners
Types of resources for your Māori collection
Types of resources for your Pasifika collection
Displaying resources

Inclusive collections

School libraries send powerful messages about how we value students as individuals, who are proud of their culture, language, faith and values. It’s important they reflect diversity, helping students build awareness of other cultures and learn the value of knowing a second language.

There are books with Hmong? This question broke my heart a little. The boy was shocked when I had casually mentioned a book with a Hmong character. He had made it to third grade without realizing that there were books related to his home culture and that they were available in his school library. Nerdybookclub

Now, try replacing Hmong with the name of a culture from your school community and ask if this scenario could have played out at your school?

Your school library resources, like your library environment, need to acknowledge and reflect all students with:

  • authentic resources that reflect culture accurately
  • items in English by authors from that culture -home language materials
  • bilingual materials
  • resources that suit a variety of needs, interests and formats such as:
    • audio books
    • large print
    • ebooks
    • DVDs with captions
    • illustrations and images.

Students may read bilingual resources and those in other languages at home with a helper, so fluency is not essential. Bilingual materials help encourage language development and literacy in one or more languages by providing an opportunity to engage, compare and interpret. 

Knowing your users

The first step in developing a collection that reflects your students’ needs and interests is to build a profile of your school community.

You can do this in a number of ways such as:

  • using the School community profile template
  • getting recommendations from students, staff, literacy leaders and the wider school community
  • analysing your school’s reading data and your library management system’s student borrower records to identify patterns in reading abilities and trends in reading interests
  • using to find out what your students enjoy reading about.

Find out more about planning and selecting your resource collection.

Accessing digital resources

Think about how to make Māori, Pasifika and other digital resources relevant to your school community easily accessible for teachers, students, students’ family and whānau, as part of your library’s online presence. Easy access to online resources will enhance your students' learning experience and complement the school library’s print resources.

Visit our Resources for learning section.

Providing information resources for priority learners

Priority learners are groups of students who have been identified as historically not experiencing success in the New Zealand schooling system. These include many Māori and Pacific learners, those from low socio-economic backgrounds, and students with special education needs. ERO (August 2012)

Every New Zealand school library has a key role in contributing to the achievement of all students through providing access to a wide variety of resources – print, non-print, digital and people – that present authentic perspectives to help increase students’ understanding of themselves and their world.

Types of resources for your Māori collection

Māori resources and the use of them are one measure of your school’s commitment to the National Education Goal (NEG) 10 which states:

Respect for the diverse ethnic and cultural heritage of New Zealand people with acknowledgement of the unique place of Māori.

The type, format and number of resources for your library’s Māori collection will depend on your school community. Types include:

  • Non-Fiction and Reference: Topics in te reo Māori, as well as resources in the English language about Māori. For example:
    • biographies of Māori people
    • tribal history and pre- European New Zealand history
    • history written from a Māori perspective
    • the Treaty and Waitangi Tribunal
  • Picture books, Quick Picks, Fiction and Graphic novels.
  • Magazine and newspaper sections
  • Games that engage students with leisure pursuits while reinforcing literary, curricular and social skills. For example: boardgames, cards, puzzles, apps and other online games.

Further information about Māori resources

Our list of Publishers of Māori resources, has a selection of publishers and booksellers that provide books, magazines and audiovisual resources, including TVNZ DVDs/videos, in English and te reo Māori.

Toi te Kupu is a database of published Māori language resources developed by Massey University's Te Pūtahi-ā-Toi, The School of Māori Studies.

See the Create Readers blog for reviews by National Library staff of our books with Māori content and books in te reo Māori.

Librarything - NatLibMaorilegend resources from our collection of Māori myths and legends that can be borrowed. Tags are done by region so when you search for a particular region inside Librarything, it brings up all the stories that belong to that region. The tags also tell which language the books are in and the age level. As there may be stories from several regions in one title, these lists will also be useful for schools to find legends by region.

See NatLibMaoriCharacter LibraryThing for fiction titles which have Māori characters. The tags are Māori author, Māori character/s, and Māori short stories.

See NatLibMaoriReference LibraryThing for suggestions of titles for a Māori reference collection. There are tags to show which are appropriate for secondary or primary collections.

Types of resources for your Pasifika collection

Pasifika students’ like other young New Zealanders appreciate high interest, ‘cool’ resources, and are influenced by peer preferences and recommendations. Many are avid followers of fiction, but others prefer non-fiction.

Resource selection needs to address both the following questions:

  • How can we bring Pacific worlds and works into the classroom for Pasifika - and non-Pasifika - students?
  • How can we bring mainstream worlds and works to Pasifika learners in a relevant and meaningful way?

Suggested range of resources

  • Home language materials, highlighted face out or in labelled boxes
  • Bilingual materials (to help encourage language development and literacy in one or more languages by providing an opportunity to engage, compare and interpret)
  • The New Zealand Pacific Picture Book Collection
  • Information about Pacific Islands and cultures. Check that the content is authentic, and fairly represents perspectives of Pacific peoples rather than colonial or tourist perspectives.
  • Materials that reflect Pasifika experience in New Zealand (to support the growth of a secure identity as New Zealand Pasifika).
  • Texts with Pasifika settings, themes or characters.

The Create Readers blog has reviews by National Library staff of our books with Pasifika content.

Displaying resources

Effective display of your home-language and cultural collection ensure visibility and easy access. And, importantly, it gives the sense of a welcoming and inclusive library.

  • Ensure that labelling is appropriate and include them in displays and book-talking.
  • Create visibility for these collections such as home language materials highlighted face out or in labelled boxes.
  • Consider permanent displays celebrating local cultures.

Consider the pros and cons of separate language collections:

  • When displaying resources consider to what extent to shelve in separate language collections, or house together and use different spine labels to identify Mäori and Pasifika resources.
  • Reference and Magazine sections - Will these resources be separated out? For example, if you have a sizeable Māori reference section:
    • you could have a bay/s for these resources that sits alongside your other reference section, or
    • you could incorporate it into your Māori collection.
  • Picture books, Quick Picks, Fiction and Graphic novels: You have to decide whether to shelve all Māori authors in the Māori collection even if the content is not Māori or New Zealand content.

Rosehill College has a four-bay collection incorporating their Māori fiction, non-fiction and magazine resources.

Rosehill College has a four-bay collection incorporating their Māori fiction, non-fiction and magazine resources.