Evaluating Reference Resources – A Checklist

Resources are an integral part of all libraries.  In a school-based setting, the job of the Teacher-Librarian is to ensure that the available resources are tailored to our unique setting, which includes staff, students and the community learning goals.  My library contained a large amount of reference materials that were rarely used and out of date.  A considerable amount of time was spent weeding over a period of approximately four months, which resulted in the removal of a set of outdated World Book Encyclopedias, a large amount of videotapes, and other resource materials.

While deciding which materials to remove from the collection, I reviewed a variety of materials regarding resource evaluation.  A checklist that is used frequently to review reference materials, both print and digital, is the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose) Test created by the librarians at California State University, Chico.  Another resource that appears useful, and could be the basis of teaching lessons to students regarding resources, is Evaluating Reference Resources, from the Idaho Commission for Libraries.  The purpose of this assignment was to create a rubric or checklist to evaluate “a significant resource” in my library collection that considered ‘relevancy, purpose, currency, curricular connections, and efficient use of library space’.   I created a checklist, adapted from the CRAAP test, that I will use to evaluate the World Book encyclopedia 2005 (which was recently removed from my library),  and I will also use this same checklist to evaluate World Book Online.  The completed checklists are linked below.



I created an ‘Evaluation Reference Resources – Comparison’ chart to provide further explanation for each section of the checklist.  This chart also includes a ‘cost comparison’ and ‘conclusion’ section.   Based on my review of the two resources using my checklist, World Book Online is a better option for our school population, and it is also more economical as the cost of the subscription is paid for by the School District.  The largest factors influencing my recommendation for World Book Online are based on the diversity of information available in the databases, and the ability for all of our students to access the resource.

This was a valuable exercise as it caused me to consider the questions that should be answered before purchasing a reference resource for the library.  Print resources can be extremely beneficial, but a thorough analysis should be done, especially as a large majority of information is available online for little or no cost.  Of course, we must examine the currency, relevancy, and purpose of any information – print or digital – before considering its use in our libraries, and with our staff and students.


 Asselin, M., Branch, J., & Oberg, D., (Eds). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian School Library Association & The Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.

BCDC. (2017). Bcdc.bcerac.ca. Retrieved 5 February 2017, from http://bcdc.bcerac.ca/

Riedling, Ann, Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips, (Third Edition). Linworth.

Tutorial for Info Power. (2017). Csuchico.edu. Retrieved 5 February 2017, from https://www.csuchico.edu/lins/tip/categories.html



3 thoughts on “Evaluating Reference Resources – A Checklist

  1. You have provided a very thorough evaluation of the two World Book resources and I appreciate your efforts in doing so. I have learned so much about them both from your very detailed analyses. I agree that this has been a extremely valuable exercise to learn how to evaluate and select resources that is best suited to the students at our school.


  2. I was impressed with the way you embedded the rubric so that it was possible to scroll on the page. I am pretty sure that my posting did not have this feature.

    I find World Book is a useful resource for nearly all of my students and an excellent, reliable jump off point for deeper research.


  3. Pingback: Promotion, Advocacy, Promotion, Advocacy… | A Teacher in Delta

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