The world of the twenty-first century is a world of technology, innovation, and uncertainty. While not new to the human experience or to the school library media center, technology has become increasingly intense and pervasive. Demands are being placed on the managers of technology to improve society and education in ways that the educational environment has rarely experienced. The school library media center is one of the major players in this technological transformation. The school library movement has always been aligned with progressive education, and this historical background has laid a solid foundation for change and new development.
Society and culture have always been central to defining the role of the collection development process of the school library media center. Within this framework of culture and society, the collection in schools has served the curricular and instructional needs of students, faculty, and staff; and within American and Canadian culture and society, the center’s collection has always played a role in serving recreational and personal information needs as well. In meeting these various expectations, school library media specialists have great impact on society and on the educational environment through their decisions and behaviors. Collection development can never be separated from the larger society and is subject to all of the political, social, and cultural pressures that surround it. In a democratic and open society these pressures are intense, as they represent a wide variety of values, interests, and expectations.
At the operations level, a good policy statement establishes methods for planning and carrying out day-to-day operation of the collection. Further, it outlines who is responsible for collection development decisions and operations. It addresses how to review challenged materials and the need for fairness and due process.
A school library media collection development policy must be official and it must be authoritative. It becomes official after having been reviewed and approved by the governing board of the school system. When it becomes official, it carries legal and professional obligations that cannot be ignored. The official policy is an open statement to the community and to teachers, administrators, staff, students, and parents describing the collection and how it is to be managed. Because it has been approved by an elected or appointed governing board, it becomes authoritative, carrying the weight and authority of social, legal, and political accountability.
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