Choosing resources

Criteria for choosing resources: curriculum materials

In order to carry out an information task effectively, students need access to appropriate information sources. The following are some key points to consider when deciding which published materials to include in the curriculum. All curriculum resources should be regularly reviewed, whether they have been purchase, borrowed or donated.

Evaluating curriculum materials

Potential use

  • Does the material support the school’s curriculum”?
  • Does it answer an expressed need or anticipate a future need?

Subject

  • How does the resource relate to curriculum topic(s)?
  • Does it fill an obvious gap? (Also, is there already a copy in the library/textbook room/teachers’ collection?)
  • Is it of such interest and value that it will attract readers and extend their experience?

Treatment

  • Does the item have a stated purpose and is it fulfilled?
  • Can it be understood by the age group or at the year level where the interest lies?

Will students be able to identify required information in the source?

  • Does the approach used contribute to the material’s value, for examples does it invite new thoughts on the subject or contribute positively to its understanding?
  • Does the resource feature undesirable aspects such as:
    • bias
    • stereotypes
    • tokenism
    • unsatisfactory treatment of minority groups
    • unsatisfactory treatment of women.
  • Is the item educationally sound in keeping with current theory and practice?
  • What information skills teaching/learning activities could the resource support?

Scope

  • Is the coverage of the subject broad or limited to a specific area?
  • Are supplementary materials needed?
  • How does it compare with already existing materials?

Reliability

  • Are the authors/editors/publishers recognised as having specialised knowledge?
  • Are the facts accurate and the information up-to-date?
  • If it is a new edition, how much of the former edition has been revised?

Format and presentation

  • Does the presentation/format/packaging/cover appeal? Does it provide enough information for students to make an informed decision about the resource?
  • Does the resource have features, such as a sitemap, index, glossary, chapter summaries, helpful links which make the contents readily accessible? Are these features provided at a level appropriate to student use? (for example, a complex index may appear useful but will students be able to use it with ease?)
  • Is the medium chosen (for example, print/DVD/audio/online encyclopaedia) appropriate for the subject and the presentation consistent with the kind of use it will get?
  • Will this item contribute to the range of media valuable to students on the topic? (for example, is this another print resource to add to an already print-heavy range of resources, and should another medium, such as video, be chosen in preference?)

Technical quality and durability

  • Are the print, photographs, sound and other qualities satisfactory?
  • Is the binding/packaging suited to the type and frequency of intended use?
  • Is the resource accessible and easily navigated/intuitive to use?

Price

  • Does the resource represent good value for money?
  • How does it compare with other resources in the area?

Further information on these and other selection criteria which should be considered in choosing resources can be found in the Handbook for school libraries:

  • Criteria for nonfiction: Section 5.2.3.1
  • Criteria for nonbook materials: Section 5.2.3.3
  • Criteria for computer software: Section 5.2.3.4.
  • Criteria for fiction: Section 5.2.3.2.

See also Aboriginal Education K–12 resource resource guide, pages 15–17. (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2003)

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