Collection Development

Teacher-Librarian as Collection Developer

It is the role of the teacher-librarian to develop, maintain, and support an effective collection to support student learning. As the school’s learning resource centre collection serves as a communication and information base, it must be adequate in size, breadth, depth and diversity, and represent several types of media, points of view and forms of expression.

"If students are to become lifelong learners, they must have the ability to access information in real and virtual environments, and the critical thinking skills to use that information ethically, creatively, and wisely. Students must be confident, capable learners who achieve the learning outcomes described in the curriculum. In order to realize this, it is essential that students have access to a wide range of high-quality resources that complement curricula" (Learning Resource Evaluation Guidelines, May 2011, p 10).

The process of collection development is the act of building a coherently connected selection of appropriate items intended to serve an easily identifiable body of users. Simply stated, the successful collection development process puts the perfect piece of information, in the ideal format, into the hands of the right person at just the precise time it is required. Of course, ensuring that this perfect information has been purchased at a fair price and has potential for repeated use makes the process ideal.

As a collection developer, the teacher-librarian must possess in-depth knowledge, and understand the purpose, of the school library’s collection, and be keenly aware of the collection’s strengths and weaknesses. In selecting material for the school learning resource centre’s collection, the teacher-librarian must be able to demonstrate how the selected resource supports the collection’s strength or how that item addresses the collection’s weakness.

In order to provide a framework for the complex task of collection development, it is imperative that teacher-librarians adhere to the policies and procedures outlined by the Ministry, school division, and individual school. The teacher-librarian uses the specific policies and procedures, needs of the audience, and outcomes of curricula to build the library’s collection.

Regardless of whether works are read on paper or browsed on a screen, the teacher-librarian must be certain there is access to materials that provide quality stories, information, and varied perspectives at the reading, interest, and developmental level of all their learners. At the same time, the teacher-librarian must help learners understand the value of the stories and information. Issues of intellectual freedom, copyright, and plagiarism must be an integral part of collection development.
Traditionally, school collections encompassed mainly print resources. Today the library collection includes a vast array of resources including traditional materials as well as ebooks, hand-held devices, and electronic databases. In addition, today’s school library reaches outside its walls to include communication with a global audience, collaboration with distant agencies and audiences, and access to Internet resources.
Collection development is not simply a fulfilment of a request for materials. It is a cycle that involves establishing areas of need through a formal collection analysis; examining the existing collection for materials; adhering to selection policies and procedures; and recommending a set of materials that would address the need, align with curricular outcomes, and further develop an information-rich, inquiry learning environment.

Phases of Collection Development

Critical Tasks of A Collection Developer
  • Communicate and apply guidelines for the collection development process.
  • Develop a core collection supporting the learning and teaching needs of students and teachers.
  • Create pathfinders of available resources based on selection policies and procedures, curricular outcomes, and patron needs.
  • Address key issues related to collection development including challenges, copyright, censorship, and intellectual property.

The Phases of Collection Development


Building A Choice Collection