The library must find a balance between enriching and supporting the curriculum, and meeting the recreational reading needs of students. It should aim to inspire and challenge students with new authors, genres and areas of interest. The collection should accommodate the varied cultures and abilities of students.Selection of resources needs to be planned and should be based on:

  • School priorities.
  • The available budget.
  • Evaluation of the existing collection to identify areas requiring additional resources. Library staff should maintain a consideration file of topics, authors and genres for inclusion.
  • Recognised selection criteria.
  • The school library’s collection development policy.
  • Replacement of lost or damaged items.
  • Suggestions from staff and students.

Who selects?

Depending on the staffing complement of the library, overall responsibility lies with the teacher-librarian, library technician or teacher in charge. Teaching staff should be consulted and be actively involved in the selection of resources to support curriculum programs.

Students and other community members should also be encouraged to make suggestions. A suggestion book, form or web-based form can be used. There is increasing interest in student-driven acquisition models – see Mali Jorm & Lisette Robey in Libraries as Literacy Leaders (2021).

Important tip: Check the library catalogue and processing shelves before purchasing resources to avoid duplication.

Selection tools recommended by Tasmanian school library staff

A variety of sources can assist with the selection process. The following have been suggested by Tasmanian school library staff.

Journals and magazines



Selection criteria

The following criteria should be applied when selecting items:


  • Relevant to the curriculum.
  • Satisfies the recreational reading interests of students.
  • Meets an existing or potential need.
  • The cost is justified.
  • The item will be used.

Suitability to the target audience and age group:

  • Suitable for the reading age.
  • Clarity of illustrations.
  • Ease of use and readability.
  • Support students with print disabilities.

Accuracy and authenticity:

  • Facts are presented impartially and information is not biased.
  • Content is respectful of culture, gender, religion and disability.
  • Content is accurate.
  • Content has an Australian focus (if relevant).
  • The author is reputable.
  • Information is current.


  • The item is attractive.
  • Content is organised logically and sequentially.
  • Illustrations are of a high quality.
  • An index, table of contents and bibliography are included (if relevant).
  • The item is durable and well-constructed.

Useful resource: manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian School Library Resource Centres 2nd ed (pdf).

Selection tips for new library staff

  • Make sure resources are age appropriate – if in doubt, visit a bookshop to check an item or borrow it from Libraries Tasmania and show to school staff.
  • Use the strengths of teachers to guide selection in their subject area.
  • Seek the advice/approval of the Principal.
  • Provide students with the ability to make choices eg suggestion box or informal chats.
  • Monitor what is popular with students and buy similar items.
  • Buy popular movie and TV book tie-ins.
  • Have a specific student in mind when you looking for items to buy.
  • Check the Australian curriculum.
  • Ensure there is a range of diversity resources.
  • Attend author events.


Suppliers tend to fall into 3 categories:

  • Retailers (physical and online bookshops): selling popular publications with the ability to order from interstate or overseas.
  • Publishers: some specialise in educational material or in particular subjects and formats eg textbooks, reading sets. Most produce catalogues and have online ordering capability.
  • Wholesalers/discounters: they can only supply what is on hand at the time but they can be a good source of bargains that are useful to top up the collection.

School libraries use a range of suppliers, depending on the type and format of material they are purchasing. When choosing a supplier the following should be taken into account:

  • Accuracy in filling orders and in accounting.
  • The offer of discounts.
  • Fast and reliable service.
  • Returns and cancellations policies.

Tasmanian school library staff recommendations

eAudiobooks and eBooks

See the eResources page.

Book shops

Online book sellers

Book Week books

The Children’s Book Council (CBCA) publishes a yearly list of notable titles and shortlisted titles for their Book of the Year Award. These represent the very best of Australian children’s literature from the last year.

Book Week activities (including voting, displays, book readings) can be based around purchases of short-listed titles and associated CBCA Book Week merchandise. The CBCA website is a treasure trove of information, useful links and reviews.

Standing orders

Schools subscribing to standing order services can select from a range of subscription offers and are sent packages of newly published material. Titles are expertly selected and include teaching notes. Suppliers include Australian Standing Orders and Lamont. Check return policies as some materials may be unsuitable.

Travelling booksellers, book fairs and book clubs

They are all valuable sources of material. However, the whole budget should not be spent this way as the range is generally limited and may only relate to one publisher – identified priorities and selection criteria still need to be applied.

Teachers and students can be invited to suggest items for inclusion. This is a great way to promote the library with the added benefit that purchases are relevant to users.

Non-book suppliers

These suppliers have been recommended by Tasmanian schools:

TALIS Network schools should refer to the TALIS Support Website for information about barcode scanners, barcodes and spine labels.

Ordering and receiving

Ordering processes vary depending on whether you are ordering from a local bookseller or using an online supplier. If ordering from a bookseller, check online first to establish the correct title, author and publisher details. In some cases, standing orders or subscriptions can be established. These typically run for a year and then need to be evaluated and perhaps renewed.

Maintain a record of regular suppliers and their contact details.

Consult with your School Business Manager / Executive Officer so you can meet their ordering requirements. You may need to have orders authorised and use an order book and/or credit card. Orders should be clearly recorded to enable tracking and as a record of committed funds.

When items are received

  • Check the materials match the packing slip, invoice and order form.
  • Check the materials are in good condition. If not, return them quickly. Keep details of any returns for tracking purposes.
  • Record the order details against your budget. You may wish to keep a copy of the order form and/or invoice so you have a record of where the items were purchased from and proof that the invoice was received, actioned and passed on. This information can also be recorded in a spreadsheet or in the notes field of an item record in your Library Management System.
  • Arrange payment (if this hasn’t been done).
  • Notify the requestor of the material that it has arrived (if relevant).

If items are not received

  • Check open orders regularly and contact the supplier in a timely manner.
  • Claim for issues of magazines/journals or book subscriptions that do not arrive as expected.

Gifts and donations

The school library may receive donations or gifts but you aren’t obliged to accept them. The same criteria for purchased resources should be applied so donations or gifts meet the library’s quality, currency and relevance standards.

Conditions for the acceptance of gifts and donations should be clearly stated in the Collection Development Policy. This will assist you if you need to reject an offering.

Solicited donations from community groups can be a useful way of increasing the resources of the school library with a limited budget. Once again, it is essential to ensure that the resources are appropriate and comply with selection criteria.


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Page updated 14/09/2023

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