School Library Media Specialists “organize and maintain a current, diverse, and inclusive collection of reading and information materials in multiple genres and formats that support the developmental, cultural, social, and linguistic needs of all learners” (AASL Position Statement: The School Librarian's Role in Reading) as well as the curriculum of their school. A well-funded library budget enables the entire school community to access a variety of professionally-curated resources. The return on investment of a school library collection cannot be overstated.
School Library Media Specialists should consult professional review journals to inform their purchasing. Many of these review journals also offer professional development regarding book selection via virtual and in-person events. “An effective school library includes diverse and inclusive resources, programs, and services that meet the needs of all learners; represents various points of view on current and historical issues; and provides support across a wide range of interest areas with opportunities for learners to recognize themselves”(AASL Position Statement: The Role of the School Library).
Collections must be regularly audited and inventoried to ensure that outdated or damaged materials are removed. A school library collection is ever-evolving and must be regularly weeded to ensure that it is current and reflects changes and updates to curriculum and publishing. School Library Media Specialists have been trained to examine the age and condition of a title, its circulation statistics, and they have the ability to consult professional resources such as the Wilson Core Collection Guides to determine if, despite its age, a title should be kept in a collection.
NJASL encourages School Library Media Specialists to be included in curriculum development discussions of the grades and/or departments in their school building so that they can make informed purchasing decisions. School Library Media Specialists should be included in the budget process, place orders from approved vendors to maximize discounts, process the materials when received, and make them available for use quickly.
Certified School Library Media Specialists have been trained in collection development and are the most qualified staff member to make purchasing decisions for the school’s library. In addition to professional journals, they consult with teachers and students to inform purchasing decisions. This is a year-round endeavor and a critical component of a School Library Media Specialist’s job. Furthermore, New Jersey Administrative Code Requirements for School Library Media Specialist Certification (Chapter 6A:9B-14.14) lists “the development and coordination of school library media programs and resources” (N.J.A.C. 6A:9B 158) as one of the functions of the job. Eligibility for the certification requires that candidates hold a master's degree from a program that meets the requirements listed in the NJ Administrative Code including children’s and young adult literature as well as the “development and implementation of policies and procedures for effective and efficient acquisition, cataloging, processing, circulation, and maintaining equipment and resources to ensure equitable access” (N.J.A.C. 6A:9B 159).
"N.J.A.C. 6A:9B, State Board of Examiners and Certification." NJ.gov, State of New Jersey, www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap9b.pdf. Accessed 8 June 2023.
"Role of the School Library." American Library Association, June 2019, www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/advocacy/statements/docs/AASL_Role_of_the_School_Library.pdf. Accessed 6 June 2023.
"The School Librarian's Role in Reading." American Library Association, 25 Jan. 2020, www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/advocacy/statements/docs/AASL_Position_Statement_RoleinReading_2020-01-25.pdf. Accessed 6 June 2023.