Recently the librarians in my district were asked to provide our library collection number of holdings and our average collection copyright age from the group working on our district reading plan. I don’t want to assume anything about how that data will be used. As a matter of fact, I’m delighted to know the library information for our district’s libraries is being considered at all. But providing this information once again has me worried. This same information made its way for the first time this past year to the annual school report card.
- Library Collection by the numbers = 23,472 and this is not counting subscription services & ebooks through Gale. (Note – current enrollment, 2381)
- Library Collection Average Copyright Age = 2002
It is such a shame to feel we are being nailed on age when we in my teaching context have not seriously invested in our nonfiction in the last few years due to our patron’s preference to do research online. What librarian doesn’t struggle with some pangs of guilt over this information? Instead of getting newer nonfiction books, we have instead bought more subscription databases and services (Gale, Ebsco, Discovery Education, etc.) to supplement project based learning and research needs. The nonfiction on the shelf have been weeded some, but they are ridiculously outdated for research, and more or less now serve as a source for interest reading. We even tell students that check out from these sections to be sure to look at some of our purchased online resources for better quality and more current information.
I don’t mean to make excuses, but rather defend our spending practices which haven’t really focused on nonfiction print materials in quite some time. To be good stewards of our budget, we must provide what our community wants, and let’s face it, now in terms of research, I don’t even know experts in our field or any field that haven’t moved over to vetted, authoritative, and continuously updated subscription and online services that are.
Where is it better?
I would like to bring attention to the more respectable sections of our collection. The most dominantly checked out materials by our patrons hold more current average copyright ages; the fiction section has an average copyright date of 2008, and the arts (non fiction) has an average copyright date of 2005. These materials make up just over 43% of our collection.
I do not know exactly how this requested data or information will be used, but it did bear sharing and defending our data. With such a large school and large collection, it is difficult to weed more, though we all know it must be done. Our state’s collection standards are under revision this year, and I hear these revisions will be even more strict, but also take into consideration that research has dominantly become an online entity. So I shared with my colleagues to be proactive with this data, and leverage the information to bolster a proposed budget plan, one that addresses the need for more books and more money to invest in online resources.
Leverage the tools
We in South Carolina have just the right mixture of data to make our case. We are very publicly a part of our school’s report card, and we have solid data from our South Carolina Library Impact Study to make the case that we make a difference in student success. Just this month School Library Journal has our Impact Study featured. With these tools, timing is ripe to approach the powers that be who decide how much funding the library gets in our state’s dominant site based management world for school funding. Equip yourself and go forth with your data, a budget plan (shoot for the moon people), and the Impact Study. We all know in this day and age of the education landscape, our administrators respond to data. And data this year we do have. (NOTE: Infographic representing the 2015 SC Impact Study. Click on the image to visit SCASL.net for more information.)
We are quite proud of our SC Impact Study.