The Professional Collection: The Teachers' Professional Collection Materials: Stimulating Use

Article excerpt

THE PROFESSIONAL COLLECTION IN A SCHOOL LIBRARY should be carefully selected to meet the demands of the teachers, administrators, counselors and teacher-librarians who are to use them. The hallmark of an outstanding professional collection in library resource centers is heavy usage of the resources by faculty members (Wilson, 2000).

In order to have an outstanding professional collection, the teacher-librarian must identify the needs of the instructional curriculum and identify the teachers' characteristics, preferred teaching methods, instructional needs and information needs (Van Orden, 1995). Information power (1998) states that working collaboratively with teachers and others, the teacher-librarian is the catalyst for correlating collections that promote curricular achievement and information literacy for all learners, including setting goals and policies for the selection of materials for the professional collection.

According to Wilson (2000), if faculty are to use the professional collection in a library resource center, they need to be made aware of the resources found in the collection. Conversely, if a teacher-librarian collaboratively plans the selection of materials with the faculty, they would be aware of the collection and usage would be higher.

Purpose of this study

The professional collection at Elbert County (Georgia) Middle School is rarely used by teachers. The circulation of journals is limited to special education teachers who use Teacher Helper or Mailbox to find worksheets or bulletin board ideas. Other big "users" are science and social studies teachers who check out videos. Most language arts teachers have not checked out any materials to date. No administrator or counselor has checked out any materials from the collection, either. The collection includes many good journals, specific content area trade books, books on teaching strategies, research sources and information on research skills, on-line sources such as Galileo and the Internet and reference materials.

Wilson (2000) interviewed teacher-librarians around the United States and found that most felt that a professional collection in the school library was necessary. If this is the case, I wondered why the professional collection at my school did not seem important to teachers. With the Wilson article in mind, I created this study in order to better understand what a professional collection is and how it might be used to help teachers. I also wanted to find out how the teachers at Elbert County Middle School felt they were being served by the professional collection in the school library.


A professional collection can provide materials to the teacher-librarian, teachers, administrators and counselors to support their professional growth (Wilson, 2000). The professional collection should be available to school faculty to meet their most immediate need with easy access to the resources. Resources should provide the latest trends and knowledge of specific content areas, teaching strategies and educational issues. Wilson found that 70 per cent of secondary librarians and 84 per cent of elementary librarians thought it was "very important" or "important" that teachers have access to a well-organized professional collection. Yet, on the same survey, 82 per cent of the secondary teacher-librarians and 77 per cent of the elementary teacher-librarians responded that they have 10 or fewer checkouts per week. Teachers were not using the library for three reasons according to Wilson:

* teachers were too busy to find time to use the resources;

* teachers were unable to find the resources to meet their specific needs;

* the materials in the collection were not current.

Funding was a major contributor to the adequacy of the professional collection. Schools that provided funding had an up-to-date professional collection. Wilson (2000) concluded that the hallmark of a truly outstanding professional collection was the heavy usage of the resources by faculty members. …