Reflections on the importance of a library collection development policy

Strange as it may sound, library collection development policies were not something I knew existed before attempting this unit of study (ETL503). Now I can hardly see how a school library can feel confident and consistent in developing their collections without one. Being transparent and accountable through the support of a written collection development policy makes it easier to defend and protect our actions should they be questioned (Mitchell, 2013). For me, this is clearly evidenced in the following three areas as much as anything:

I’d never really thought too much about the removal of older resources. I tended to think it would be best to leave any book in good condition on the shelf. I likened it to the old saying that “one person’s trash is another’s treasure” – so why not just leave it there just in case? However, I soon found myself readily agreeing with Renate Bailharz (2007), that it was most definitely quite annoying to have to sort through useless resources in order to try and find valuable ones. That these outdated resources diluted the quality of the collection on the whole. However, libraries are facing increased scrutiny from the public and funding sources and may be required to justify their weeding practices in more detail (Larson, 2012, p7). In such instances, an effective written collection development policy will be of immense value.

Challenges to resources:
As with removing a resource from the collection, it can only be a good thing to have a written policy (and procedure) in place when someone challenges the inclusion of a resource within the collection. People may challenge the inclusion of a resource on a number of different grounds, political or religious to name a couple. Whatever the challenge, the school library will clearly benefit by being prepared with a review policy and procedure to follow (American Library Association, 2013).
A formal process, that includes a form/application reviewed by an official school committee, may also help the individual making the challenge to think about what they are objecting to more deeply. It may also assist in making them feel their concerns are being respected, as well as to understand and accept the final outcome, whatever it might be (Crotty, 2013a).

As mentioned by Roy Crotty (2013b), a simple statement within the collection development policy can protect the teacher-librarian, and the school, should a fellow staff member fail to comply with the Copyright Act in their use of the library collection. A statement outlining that the school library abides by copyright indicates that the if Copyright is broken by a staff member, that it was an action taken by that individual alone, acting outside of the library’s written collection development policy. As teacher-librarians we cannot watch what every staff member does at all times, but we can make it clear in our freely available policy what is expected of them and what the school stands for. We would not want to leave ourselves open to the possible ramifications of being without it!


American Library Association. (2013). In Banned and Challenged Books. Retrieved from:

Beilharz, R. (2007). ‘Secret library business – part 2′, Connections, Issue 63, pp. 10-12

Crotty, R. (2013a). Vodcast: Assignment 2, Part B. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website:

Crotty, R. (2013b). Vodcast: Challenges to materials. Retrieved May 16, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website:

Larson, J. (2012). CREWing children’s materials’ in CREW: a weeding manual for modern libraries, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: Austin, TX.,

Mitchell, P. (2013). Module 6: Collection Management Policy. Retrieved from Charles Sturt website:

This entry was posted in ETL503 - Resourcing the Curriculum. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s