The Scotch College libraries are dedicated to the continued investment in new academic resources for our whole community. Our physical books remain an important resource and we continue to invest a significant mount of money into these every year.
An important philosophy applied at Scotch is that we don’t purchase books that we think we should have, just for the sake of having them. Some libraries think that a good library must have copies of certain books, but if the students don’t borrow them, money has effectively been wasted just for the sake of appearances and this is simply bad practice. Let's say, for example, we think we should purchase fiction books on the topics of poverty. I agree this topic is important and we would want students to read about it but honestly, fiction for a library needs to be engaging, interesting and adventure-filled. The topic, in this case, is best (and is usually) covered by a dedicated text to be studied in English or Humanities. Given that it's extremely unlikely students will read these books unless they're told to, stocking them on library fiction shelves is a poor use of resources.
At Scotch we continue each and every year to purchase high quality fiction books based on several different methodologies.
It is a critical role of the Teacher Librarian to be continually looking at new releases during each year and it is essential to the budgeting process that a specific amount is set aside for these resources. This ensures that those students waiting for the next book in a series or the next set of graphic novels are confident that you will have them as soon as they are released. At Scotch, we will often purchase these titles from local suppliers to ensure that we absolutely have them on the day of release.
Non-fiction has been an interesting talking point in many libraries but the simple reality is that you cannot obtain all sources of information digitally and in some cases the book is demonstrably better. With this in mind, while we still spend a significant amount on non-fiction hard cover books, we also apply specific methodology for these resources.
As part of this we have also begun the process of reducing the collection on the floor of the library and increased the provision of 'on demand' access to non-fiction.
The simple reality about graphic novels is that we can never have enough of them on the shelf to satisfy demand. We do, however, limit the number we purchase because we want students to be progressing through traditional texts in the fiction collection. We purchase new sets every year, but in light of the extensive choice in this area we invite student requests to ensure they are getting the ones that want to read. It is important to make sure they are appropriate and at Scotch, we rely on feedback from students and graphic novel-reading library staff to help direct the purchasing.
At Scotch, library budgets revolve around the resources required for the boys to complete academic subjects. We have found that teacher resources in a library are rarely used and therefore money spent on a teacher resource stored in a library cupboard is wasted. As a result, we no longer purchase teacher resources and all of these requests are processed through the Director of Teaching and Learning who then provides these to the individuals seeking them. These materials are still cataloged but with the location recorded as the relevant departmental office or, for example, the Director of Teaching and Learning.
At Scotch we currently operate a collection that numbers 36844 physical books from 1- 12 (specific to each library and located under that library's tab). The total investment at Scotch is approximately $500,000 and fairly stable around this figure as we weed and purchase each year. These numbers must be considered in the context of usage, as a large number of books with poor usage represents wasted money.