Department of Education

School Library Support

School Library Support

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Selecting resources

Collection development guidelines

Collection development guidelines written in collaboration with the whole school staff, provide a set of principles to ensure that the school library develops and maintains a 'balanced, relevant and dynamic collection' which satisfies the needs of its users. It should reflect the school philosophy and development plan.

Challenge guidelines should also be incorporated to provide guidelines on the rare occasion that a resource may be considered controversial or offensive to some members of the school community.

Sample Collection Development Guidelines for a school library

Information on collection development is available from the Australian School Library Association website:


See also the following information resources: 

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Selection process

A school library resource centre should provide access to a wide range of quality resources which support curriculum needs and trends, enhance the recreational interests of all students and are matched to appropriate levels. These resources should also support the goals and priorities set by the school.

Selection is a systematic process based on:

  • school priorities
  • the budget
  • recognised selection criteria
  • the school's Collection Development Guidelines.


It is the responsibility of the teacher librarian or resource teacher in collaboration with teachers and other professional staff to select material for the resource centre. These professional staff should have knowledge of:

  • the curriculum
  • learning and teaching styles
  • child development
  • student achievement levels
  • collection development
  • resource selection criteria.
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Selection tools

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of alerts to newly published resources and other selection aids. Those listed are just a start. With experience library staff will build up a range of tools suited to their school's needs. Be aware of the source and authority of chosen selection tools, allowing for the particular focus, even bias, of each.

Resources should only be purchased if they:

  • meet school priorities
  • are within budget constraints
  • meet selection criteria
  • meet the school's Collection Development Guidelines.

A particular school's choice of selection tools will depend on available budget, staff time and on identified needs.

Publishers’ alerts
Reviewing journals
Online selection guides
Teachers', librarians' and readers' blogs, wikis and other 'sharings'
Approval resources from booksellers
Standing orders
Suggestions from teachers, students, administrators and parents
Literacy awards
Lists of recommended books
Recommended websites

Publishers' alerts

See web pages of the various publishers to subscribe to newsletters and other pre-publication alerts.

Many also provide author information, teachers' notes, reviews from various sources and sometimes extracts from books.

Reviewing journals

Online selection guides

Teachers', librarians' and readers' blogs, wikis and other 'sharings'

Many interested people such as teachers, authors, librarians and generally interested people publish preferences and resource ideas on the Internet. A general search will bvring them to the fore. featured books and events are often listed.

Approval resources from booksellers

It is important to adhere to the school's collection policy when selecting books from booksellers.

Standing orders

Suggestions from teachers, students, administrators and parents

A suggestion box or pad can be left near the checking-out point to encourage staff and students to suggest resources to purchase.

Literary awards

Literary awards provide a useful check against your collection. Be aware of the criteria by which the award is judged. Include fiction and non-fiction awards.

Lists of recommended books

Recommendation lists include the following examples:

All time bests:

Best of the year:

The following organisations and journals publish annual best lists.

Theme/genre lists:

By age group:

Recommended websites

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Periodicals are valuable sources of current information as well as useful resources for recreational reading.

A policy on periodical selection and purchase should be developed by teaching staff, and periodicals evaluated at regular intervals for usage, for their ability to complement the curriculum, and for their relevance to client needs.

A periodicals collection should be:

  • catalogued
  • clearly labelled
  • stored in order by date of publication with indexes
  • maintained in good physical condition
  • weeded regularly.


It is useful to identify:

  • selection criteria for subscription purchase/renewal
  • who is responsible for ordering
  • which periodical subscriptions are current
  • which periodicals are of value and require renewal
  • preferred service provider/s
  • availability of the periodical in another medium, eg Internet or CD ROM subscription.

It is recommended that:

  • sample copies are requested prior to placing subscriptions
  • a reliable supplier is chosen - preferably local
  • subscription renewals are arranged to be due on a common, predetermined date
  • popular periodicals are purchased on an irregular basis if funds are limited.
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Donated resources

Resources donated to the school library should be added to the collection only if they:

  • are compatible with the Collection Development Guidelines
  • adhere to the selection criteria
  • fulfil a need or enhance the collection.

Donors should be informed that their donation undergoes the same selection process as any other resource under consideration for inclusion into the collection.

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Challenged resources

Challenged resources are those that may be considered controversial or offensive to members of the school community. It is important that schools have guidelines and procedures in place to deal with any challenges that may arise.

Guidelines and procedures regarding challenged resources should be developed within the school community. The Policy Statement – School Library Bill of Rights from the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) website is a useful starting point, as well as the school’s own Collection Development Guidelines.

Dealing with challenges

Dealing with challenges should be a systematic process involving:

  • referring the challenger to the school's Collection Development Guidelines
  • completion of a Request for consideration of school resources by the challenger
  • a decision on whether to remove the item from the shelf immediately or after it has been reviewed
  • a review of the challenged resource by a committee comprising the principal, resource teacher, a P&C representative and the person making the challenge
  • the principal being responsible for the final decision to remove or retain the challenged item.

Page last updated 21 January 2014

Selecting resources