Auditing your book collection

With budgets tighter than ever, before committing to additional spending on books treat them like any other resource and check what you’ve already got.

Firstly edit your collection. Books, just like any teaching resource need to match your current needs. If they don’t then they’re taking up valuable space whether that’s on library shelves, in a classroom or in a resource cupboard.

Set some criteria and discard what you no longer need. The physical condition of a book is the easy starting point but also think about relevance to your current curriculum and the currency of the information in a non-fiction title. Consider presentation and child appeal. Think also about stereotypes of gender, race and culture in both fiction and non-fiction. Are mums at the kitchen sink and dads fixing the car? Take a critical eye to donations. Do they duplicate what you already have? Are they age-appropriate?

Is your fiction collection dominated by a narrow range of well-known authors or series or by multiple copies of books bought for a specific purpose but no longer needed?

Once the edit is complete start your audit. You’ll now be able to see clearly what you’ve got and, more importantly, what you don’t have.

Set your priorities and buy or borrow with specific needs in mind making the most of your budget. Finally make your collection sustainable with a plan and budget to regularly edit and replenish.

Juniper Education Resources Service provides a book loan and advisory service to schools, and has recently launched the Managing Your Primary School Library CPD module.

Sally Harrison

Sally Harrison

Sally is the Education Resources Service Manager for Juniper Education. She has worked in primary school and public libraries for 17 years and as a children’s book reviewer. She is a chartered librarian, a member of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians and has been a board member of the School Library Association.