Summer Planning – Assessing the School Library (continued)

Assessing the School Library Collection and the Catalog

As we gear up for whatever the 2021-2022 school year has in store for us, now may be a good time to evaluate a few areas before the semester begins. This summer, in our library, we plan to assess our collection in several ways. In addition, we will contemplate migrating to a new online catalog.

Collection Analysis

A major aspect of the school librarian’s job is maintaining a relevant collection. A classic method of collection evaluation is Karen Lowe’s Resource Alignment: Providing Curriculum Support in the School Library Media Center. A more recent publication by Mona Kerby, An Introduction to Collection Development for School Librarians, provides advice on weeding, feeding, and evaluating the collection. In addition, in recent years, we have analyzed the balance of our collection with the Follett TitleWise Collection Analysis tool. This tool works with Follett Destiny and about seven other systems.

Both Format and Content of the Collection

Many librarians spent this unusual pandemic year weeding their collection. Others worked on adding electronic resources to their collection. A major goal at our school was matching the collection with the curriculum. As an international school, we work to make certain our students have books representing many cultures and experiences. To ensure that the collection is diverse, there are tools and processes to assess the collection. Karen Jensen offers advice in the SLJ post “Diversity Auditing 101: How to Evaluate Your Collection.” Additionally, Chelsey Roos explains how to conduct a diversity audit on the ALSC blog.

A New Library Catalog

Our school has used the same OPAC for more than twenty years. Unfortunately, distance learning revealed that our catalog was not as user friendly as we would like it to be. Schools in a large district often have a district-wide catalog and perhaps even a district cataloging office. But the smaller rural schools often have to evaluate and choose an OPAC system for their individual school library. The process of choosing a new online catalog can be daunting as a single school. Here are some systems to help if you are also working through this process:

Additionally, it might be a good idea to develop a checklist of requirements for the catalog software. Many of the software companies will provide checklists featuring the advantages of their products.  These lists can help as you develop your own list. The company Alexandria offered a list in “7 Must-Have Features When Choosing the Best Library Software”; it is an easy read and includes the major considerations when evaluating a library software.

What is on your checklist?  Has it changed since the pandemic began? Please add your tips in the comments below!

Catalog orientationCatalog Self Checkout


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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