As a new teacher-librarian I certainly appreciate the contribution taking the course Learning Resource Selections: LIBE 463 has made to my knowledge and practice. I have more than a year’s experience as a teacher-librarian prior to starting this course, so I did have some experience to draw upon during the course, even so I found it helpful and interesting to discover what I did not yet know and gain a clearer picture of what I still need to learn and develop to fulfill my role. There were a number of topics, including policy, intellectual freedom, collection assessment, and collection representation for all students that were particularly helpful on a practical level, as well as to my understanding of theoretical goals of a school library and its program.
This course asked us to look into policy and policy development. Previously I had become aware that our district has policy for learning resource selection, including reviewing locally selected resources. I had discovered that even though is policy is based upon provincial legislation I was not able to find anyone actually following this policy. Not surprisingly when I did locate the district library policy, which was somewhat hidden on the policy and procedures area of the district website, I noted that it had not been updated since 1988. It would seem that this is a seldom referenced or considered policy, yet it does seem well written, based upon the information on developing policy which was outlined by Kay Bishop, in The Collection Program In Schools. The basics, such as philosophy, selection, gifts, weeding, intellectual freedom and challenges are all covered. It also included items that are important in my opinion but are no longer being followed, such as minimum standards for staffing, due to budget constraints.
For me discovering the library policy was very helpful, as I was not keen on developing my own if it needed doing. The policy is adequate to support me in decision making in my position.
I could not find any school library procedures for our district, such as descriptions of programs and services, standards for cataloguing, and inclusion of new formats such as ebooks. In the future I would like to see these kinds of procedures adopted at the school level or preferably the district level. It would be helpful to have a policy and procedures manual developed, to help new personnel and provide consistency among our district libraries. I find this particularly evident with inconsistencies in the catalogue records, and in the organization and assignment of the call numbers for items, both within a single library and among district libraries. In practice, I use the same basic Dewey Decimal assignment numbers in both libraries that I work in. I have a customizable reference guide developed by a previous teacher-librarian. This is not inflexible, but a very helpful guideline to have, which saves me much time when trying to decide where to place books on pirates or Christmas carols, for example.
In practice, I do not see a procedure manual developing in the near future. We have a small district, which does not seem to have much interest in updating and improving policy. It seems like this is not high on the priority list of teacher-librarians, who are already trying to continue to provide the same quality of programs and service in much less time than is considered even the minimum according to our own district policy.