What is the Curriculum Collection?


Sign set at an angle, reads "Curriculum Collection" with an arrow pointing down to the right and a bookshelf.

Our Curriculum Collection has a new home! Enjoy the jaunty sign while it lasts.

It’s not uncommon for folks to come into the library and ask where our Young Adult books are. Up until this month, our answer was always, “the Curriculum Collection!” But what is the Curriculum Collection? And how has it changed this semester?

Many academic libraries have something they call the Curriculum Collection, which is a collection of items (mostly physical books) that support the education department. It’s designed to help education students develop curriculum plans for literacy, usually for pre-K through 12th grade students. A typical Curriculum Collection will include popular fiction and nonfiction books for those age ranges, as well as reference texts for college students studying to become teachers. This is a highly specialized collection built for a specific purpose.

A Curriculum Collection will include everything from popular picture books for toddlers to YA books for teens and older, all in the same space. This causes some confusion for folks looking for a book to enjoy over the weekend but have to sift through a bunch of picture books to get to the books they actually want to read.

The JKM Library’s Curriculum Collection has moved a few times over the last several years. Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, it was housed where the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s current exhibit space lives now on the first floor of the library. In order to make room for that exhibit space, the librarians moved the Curriculum Collection to a new room built in Lab 101 specifically for these books. This new room also included (along with the books) furniture and toys for children, a study table, and comfortable seating. It doubled as a space where students who were also parents or guardians could bring their kids while they studied. Librarians understand that childcare is expensive and hard to coordinate, and we were happy to provide a more convenient space for parents to bring their kids while trying to get their own schoolwork done.

Over winter break, IT Support Services (which includes the help desk) moved over to the first floor of the JKM Library. This move will be beneficial to students getting work done in the library, but it did mean some changes to the building. The 24/7 space has been decreased but still offers access to plenty of group study space, computers, and printers. The main computer lab has been moved from Lab 101 to room 103, the Teaching and Learning Commons has moved across the first floor to room 111 (and is still closed and undergoing renovations), and the Curriculum Collection has moved again.

If you are looking for picture books, children’s nonfiction, specialized literacy reference materials for students studying to be teachers, and some middle grade fiction titles, you can find all of those down on our ground floor on shelving units up against the wall near the study tables. You’ll also find children’s toys and children’s furniture down there, and we encourage you to bring your children with you to the library if needed.

Wide shot of Curriculum Collection's new home in basement surrounded by study tables.

Curriculum Collection’s new home on the ground floor near the study tables. Children’s toys are in the plastic bin next to the bookshelves.

In order to make this move work (and to fit the Curriculum Collection on those shelves on the ground floor), we made the decision to separate the collection. Traditionally, YA and middle grade titles are included in the Curriculum Collection to help serve the purpose of the collection itself. The JKM Library has separated out our YA and most middle grade titles from the Curriculum Collection and integrated those books with our general circulating collection. They will now be shelved up on the second and third floors with adult nonfiction and fiction.

Separating the books does make it more difficult for education students to use the Curriculum Collection for its intended purpose, but we’re working to help preserve the magic of that specialized collection with a browse-able online list. This can also help anyone interested in seeing what YA books we have in our collection. When that list is available, we will share it with the Chatham community.

If you are interested in a specific book title or want to know how you can browse our physical book collection in the library building, stop by the main library service desk on the first floor and talk to a librarian.

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