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ANZTLA Standards

(Ratified at the Association's Annual General Meeting - July 2000) 

The following standards and commentary have been prepared for administrators of theological institutions, librarians, teaching faculty, library users, members of accrediting agencies and other interested persons. The standards are intended to encourage and assist theological institutions and their libraries in the provision and evaluation of library services, resources and facilities. 

Libraries exist within a rapidly expanding information world with new and different systems, alternative formats for the publication and distribution of knowledge and alternative means of scholarly communication. Traditional library functions will remain for the foreseeable future, but librarians must now assume new roles if they are to exploit the potential of these developments and offer optimum services to their communities. 

Theological institutions in Australasia, and hence their libraries, vary markedly with respect to their functions, the levels of courses offered, the nature and size of their faculties and student bodies. For these reasons the standards do not reflect a quantitative approach for measuring the adequacy of library budgets, staffing, collections or spaces. Rather, in synthesising professional experience and expectations, they reflect a qualitative approach. 

The present edition of the Standards is divided into the following parts:

  1. Library Objectives

  2. Management

  3. Staffing

  4. Budgeting and Accounting

  5. Delivery of Services

  6. Collections

  7. Facilities

  8. Associations and Professional Development

The standards are printed in bold type. 

Commentaries (in italics) are appended to certain standards with the intent of either amplifying their content or providing recommendations for implementation.

Introductory Comment

The Introduction to this document refers to the variety of theological libraries affiliated with ANZTLA. Some belong to institutions which offer introductory or undergraduate courses, others support advanced-degree and research programs. Yet other libraries, while not involved with formal teaching programs, maintain important reference collections. 

Certain standards and comments apply specifically to the libraries of teaching institutions, others prescribe models for all types of theological libraries.

Part One: Library Objectives 


1.1  The library is integral to the educational program of the parent institution and its primary responsibilities shall be to contribute to teaching, learning and research, according to the mission and goals of the institution.


Commentary: The library plays a key role as a partner in course preparation, implementation and presentation. In reflecting the educational intentions of the institution, librarians should also, pro-actively, help shape them.


1.2  It shall be the responsibility of the chief administrative officer of the library (hereinafter referred to as 'the Librarian') to develop and periodically review a mission statement and strategic plan in accordance with the institution's priorities.


Commentary: The Librarian participates in the institution's evaluation of its educational goals and achievements by developing a library mission statement. This statement should include, a description of the library's human and physical resources, its services, collections and information technology, and an appraisal of its effectiveness in supporting the educational program. A planning process should facilitate recommendations for change and development.

1.3  The general objectives shall be to acquire resources in the fields of religion, theology and related areas, to organise and maintain them, to promote their effective use by faculty, the institution's support staff, students and members of the wider community and, as applicable, to facilitate access to information at remote sites.


Commentary: While the library exists to provide optimum service to its community, traditional objectives have been qualified, to varying degrees, by recent trends in library management, information retrieval and distribution, and communication among scholars. The major challenge facing librarians and their institutions is to actively explore ways and means of responding to new demands. 

Recent trends include:
- debates surrounding the current nature and aspects of higher education; 
- increased financial pressures on institutions and their libraries; 
- subsequently, a need to rationalise collections in collaboration with other library systems; 
- technological developments which have changed the forms of the storage and retrieval of information; 
- the progressive transformation of print to electronic media; 
- audiovisual resources which are evolving into multi-media formats; 
- changing modes of scholarly communication; 
- the need for staff training in the use of evolving technologies; 
- the need for additional investment in infrastructure; 
- a growing need for user education to cover both the range of resources and requisite technologies; 
- the development of distance education involving alternative forms of instructional delivery; 
- changes in copyright law; impact of taxation legislation on library systems.

Part Two: Management 


The matters here pertain to the institution's management of its library. 

2.1.1 The role of the library and the responsibilities of the Librarian, within the administrative structure of the institution, shall be defined in writing.

Commentary : A distinction is made between the institution's governance of its library and the library's own internal administration. 
From time to time an educational institution will examine its programs and redefine purposes and goals. In the course of this evaluation the role and responsibilities of the library should be reviewed and articulated. 
Further, the responsibilities and authority of the Librarian, with details of her/his reporting responsibility, should be recorded. 
This document should specify the procedures for appointment to the position of Librarian. 
Members of the library staff should share in this undertaking and consultations should be held with representatives of the institution, the teaching faculty and the student body.

2.1.2 The Librarian shall be a member of the teaching faculty, be informed about course planning and be prepared to advise on the availability of resources, human and material.


Commentary: Faculty membership is essential if the Librarian is to be familiar with developments and changes to curricula, the teaching methods employed, and expectations concerning research-level work. 
With this knowledge the Librarian should be in a position to advise on the availability of resources, take measures to acquire requisite materials and provide an appropriate level of information services.

2.1.3 The Librarian shall be involved in all decision making affecting the administration and development of the library.

Commentary: Decisions affecting the administration and development of the library may relate to 

- staffing, salary awards, staff promotion, the employment of non- salaried staff, staff-development programs; 
- the library building, furniture, fittings, equipment and facilities; 
- the development of the collections, the classification and cataloguing of materials; 
- the automation of library functions; 
- the public services of the library, including hours of opening, loan policies; 
- inter-library cooperation.

2.2.1 Dependent upon the administrative structure of the institution, the Librarian shall be responsible either to the head of the institution or to a library committee, for

- administering the library and its budget (see Part 4), 
- sound managerial practices, 
- the ongoing evaluation of the collection, the patterns of use, library personnel, services and facilities, 
- the observance of applicable government legislation including the copyright law and taxation obligations.

Commentary:  A library committee, as a committee of management, is strongly recommended. The committee should have agreed terms of reference and hold regular meetings. 
The committee should include 

- representation from the senior management of the institution; 
- the bursar (however called); 
- nominated members of the faculty; 
- the Librarian; 
- an independent library practitioner from another institution (such a person may provide added professional knowledge to the committee and act as a sounding board for the Librarian. In terms of an accreditation process an external librarian may act as an important advisor).

2.2.2 The Librarian shall report regularly on such matters and responsibilities as are mentioned in the preceding standard 2.2.1.

Commentary:  The Librarian, as the senior administrative officer of the library, shall report either to the director of the institution, or to her/his designated representative, or to a library 

2.3 There shall be an advisory committee, chaired by the Librarian, and comprising certain members of faculty, the student body and the library staff. This committee shall act as a channel of communication between the library and its user community.

Commentary If the library committee is deemed a committee of management, or if the institution does not have such a committee, there is good reason for the Librarian to establish, convene and chair a users' advisory committee. Such a committee should include representation from faculty, students and other library users. 

It would be charged with raising user concerns about the services and resources of the library and with recommendations that would be conveyed either to the library committee or senior management.

Part Three: Staffing 


3.1 The institution, in consultation with the Librarian, shall appoint and maintain a level of staffing sufficient to meet the agreed objectives of the library.

Commentary:  The libraries associated with ANZTLA range from one-person to multi-staff situations. Whatever the case, appointment procedures should include open advertisement, a careful definition of the position to be filled, the nature of training and experience required, and an interviewing panel. 
Each candidate should receive a clear statement of responsibilities, position classification, salary and conditions of employment.

3.2 The appointing body shall ensure that the Librarian and library staff have among them appropriate qualifications and skills in library and information management and theological, religious or other pertinent studies. The Librarian (as defined in 1.2) shall be eligible for Associate membership of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) or professional membership of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA).

Commentary: The staff represents one of the library's important assets as it supports the instructional purposes of the institution. Together the staff should bring subject knowledge and professional library experience to their work.

3.3 All library staff shall have written job specifications and report directly to the Librarian.

Commentary: Written job specifications are most likely to be composed by the Librarian, in consultation with the staff person involved. The specification is then lodged with the management of the institution. 
All members of the library staff are responsible to and report to the Librarian who, in turn, shall report on staffing issues to the appropriate member of the institution.

3.4 All members of the library staff shall receive salaries in accord with an appropriate gazetted award (an Australian or New Zealand university library staff award is deemed appropriate). They shall receive all salary benefits related to this award and also be subject to the award's conditions of service. Alternatively, they shall be paid according to appropriate salary scales of a religious organisation and observe related conditions.

Commentary: The standard recognises that members of staff of ANZTLA libraries generally fall into one of two categories and are paid accordingly.

3.5 The institution shall be responsible for meeting all legal requirements associated with the employment of salaried and non-salaried staff.

Commentary: Concerning non-salaried staff: a library may employ volunteers, with suitable qualifications and skills, as adjunct to salaried staff.

It is important that the institution be responsible for meeting all legal requirements, including workers' insurance, with respect to all members of staff. 

Aspects of professional development for members of staff are dealt with in Part 8: Associations and Professional Development.

Part Four: Budgeting and Accounting 


4.1 Library funding shall be sufficient for the operation and systematic development of the library's human, technological and material resources.

Commentary:  An institution should ensure that the library budget, exclusive of capital and physical maintenance costs, is appropriate to the library's objectives. Special recognition should be given to situations where a library is seeking to overcome past deficiencies or is being called upon to support new institutional initiatives.

4.2 The library's itemised budget shall be a distinct part of the institution's annual budget.

4.3 The formulation of the library's annual budget shall be well in advance of the beginning of the institution's financial year.

Commentary: Time is required for preparing and defending the budget estimates. Further, the library's ongoing acquisition commitments assume the availability of funds at the beginning of a new fiscal year.

4.4 The Librarian shall be responsible for preparing budgetary data and projections, for consideration by the appropriate body in the institution.

Commentary The Librarian is responsible for preparing and justifying proposed expenditures, which may include 

- administration: salaries, salary costs, staff development, conference travel; o office expenses: postage, phone, other utilities; 
- furniture (non-capital), equipment; 
- charges related to automation and developments in information and communication technology; 
- collection development: with costs estimates for reference resources; monographs, serials, standing orders, audio-visual materials; electronic resources, binding.

4.5 The Librarian shall maintain such records and accounts as are necessary for the checking of the items as ordered, the approval of invoices for payment, the monitoring of encumbrances and evaluation of the flow of expenditure.

Commentary Regulations and practices concerning accounting vary from one institution to another but, as directed, a Librarian should allocate and expend the library budget and maintain a proper record of all accounts and payments in order to satisfy the requirements of the institution's audit program. 

It is to be expected that internal accounting, with respect to income-generating functions and the acquisition of resources, be meticulous and in accord with acceptable accounting practices. Periodic reports on such fiscal matters should be presented either to the administration or the library committee.

Part Five: Delivery of Services


5.1 The library shall establish and maintain a range and quality of services that will promote the academic program and encourage optimal library use.

5.2 Computer and electronic technology should be exploited, as appropriate, to enhance the possibilities of information access and communication.

5.3.1 The library shall implement instructional programs in the effective use of library systems and resources and, in particular, the use of information technologies provided by the library.

Commentary:  A major responsibility of library staff is to instil learning skills through information literacy instruction, whether in formal or informal settings. 

Students should understand the nature and use of information resources, both general and theological. 
To facilitate this, user education is likely to include instruction in the use of reference resources, subject bibliography, exploiting the library catalogue and indexing systems, and the use of requisite technologies and equipment.

5.3.2 Library users shall be encouraged to acquire and develop independent research skills.

Commentary:  Where institutions offer courses involving research components, the library staff 
should be aware of the chosen subject areas and be prepared to offer bibliographic guidance to individuals or groups working on research projects. 


Where research is for the purposes of an advanced degree, assistance may include the identification of appropriate resource locations beyond the library.

5.4 The library shall promote the use of its resources and services through public relations and current awareness programs.

Commentary:  Library promotion strategies include displays, handouts (particularly lists of recent acquisitions) and the use of web pages. Book review sessions and other public meetings afford opportunities for the sharing of information. A Friends of the Library organisation, for which numerous models exist, may well be considered. 

On matters of promotion and publicity librarians should be familiar with the resources made available by ALIA and LIANZA.

5.5 Hours of opening shall be consistent with reasonable user demand.

Commentary:  Hours of opening will vary according to class times and user needs. The requirements of patrons may range from full library services to a quiet place to study. The type of intended use is a matter of consideration when a request for a change in hours is made. 

Given user expectations of assistance, as well as the value of collections and equipment, either a member of the library staff or a designated, suitably trained person, should be on duty in the library at all times.

5.6 Where an institution offers distance education, special library guidelines shall be developed, services arranged and provisions made to meet the particular needs of eligible students.

Commentary:  Increasingly institutions are becoming involved in distance education and non- traditional forms of educational delivery. 

Libraries face the challenge of offering distance students services parallel to those expected by internal students, and with the same access to resources. 

This service usually involves constant communication with the student. An appropriate means of directing this service is for a librarian to be specifically charged with the supervision of this activity, and with the conduct of user-education classes during residential schools. 

Library staff may also play important roles in assisting multimedia units by identifying resources for use in the production of learning materials. 

Distance education is not a less expensive alternative to in-house service; traditional on-site services cannot simply be stretched to meet the library needs of distance learning students. Additional costs may relate to the various means of communication, the supplying of photocopies, printouts and discs containing literature-search results or full-text articles. 

These services, along with increased staff-liaison time, mean that libraries may require special funding for this form of outreach. 

Fortunately, because of the participation of certain Australasian universities and their libraries in distance education, there is a wealth of advice and encouragement at hand.

5.7 The library shall participate in the national inter-library loan system.

Commentary:  Participation in the inter-library loan system involves being able to borrow from another library system but also, upon request, the willingness to lend resources that are publicly available. Voucher systems and fee structures vary from one library association to another, and from time to time, but each association publishes guidelines and changes as required.

Part Six: Collections 


6.1 A library's collections shall be of sufficient size and quality to support the institution's instructional and reference needs and, as applicable, to facilitate research programs.

Commentary:  Sufficiency here implies the possession of a high percentage of resources, in appropriate languages, required by library users, faculty and students, to enable them to achieve the objectives of the parent institution. 

The introduction to the standards notes that they do not assume a quantitative approach to measuring the adequacy of collections. Theological libraries in Australasia, as they reflect varying institutional missions and goals, do not yield easily to meaningful quantitative assessment. 

However, a number of ANZTLA libraries have participated in collection-strength assessments, using the conspectus approach. The knowledge gained has allowed librarians to understand the nature, strengths and intentions of other collections and participate more fully in collaborative arrangements. Published reports of their findings are available.

6.2.1 The library shall formulate a written collection development policy which will provide guidelines for the selection and retention of materials. This policy statement and accompanying documents shall be subject to periodic review.

Commentary:  According to the purposes of the institution, this collection development policy should inform the acquisition of materials, whether by purchase, gift or exchange, 
- in selected fields, to declared academic levels, or for research purposes; o in support of the teaching and research work of the faculty; 
- for ministerial formation and for continuing religious education programs; 
- on the history and current state of the religion, tradition or denomination represented by the institution, always in consultation with the institution's archives. In this context a library may serve, uniquely, by preserving the textual tradition of a religious organisation. 


The collection development statement should serve also to prescribe rules for the judicious weeding of the collection. 

With regard to donated material, the Librarian should have the authority to deal with such items according to the terms of the collection policy. Material not required is disposed of as deemed appropriate: donated to another library, sold, given to students or discarded.

6.2.2 The collection development policy shall be used as a planning tool. Also, as a public document, it becomes a communication device to assist in the rationalisation and sharing of resources with other libraries.

Commentary:  See 6.5 below.

6.2.3 The Librarian shall be responsible for the management and development of collections within the terms of this policy.

Commentary:  The Librarian is responsible for materials being added to and withdrawn from the library's collection. This task assumes the librarian's knowledge of the content of courses being offered and a bibliographic awareness of resources available. It also assumes the Librarian's constant consultation with members of the teaching faculty and other professional advisors, and their participation in the selection process. 

To facilitate consultation, consideration may be given to a Librarian's acquisition committee or working group, to include the Librarian and a small number of faculty. The faculty members would receive material on new publications and act as acquisition advisors.

6.3 Collections shall comprise all types of recorded information including print and non- print materials, with access to electronic databases, CD-ROMS and other electronic forms.

Commentary: The foreword notes that a major reason for this edition of the ANZTLA Standards was to point up a library's responsibilities with regard to new information storage and communication technology.

6.4 The library shall catalogue, classify and organise items according to professionally approved conventions.

Commentary:  Professional-standard cataloguing and classification are the means of ensuring the efficient identification of an item, in whatever format, by author, title and subject as appropriate, and its retrieval. 
Established national or international conventions, such as rules of entry, descriptive cataloguing, classification, and subject headings should be followed.

6.5 The library shall cooperate with other libraries in sensibly rationalising collection development, in sharing information and in appropriate forms of networking.

Commentary:  One of the purposes of a collection development policy is to provide guidance to other libraries, assisting them in determining their own collection needs. Given that no library can be all things to all users, every possibility for cooperation in collection development, management and storage should be explored.

Part Seven: Facilities 


7.1.1 The institution shall provide a conveniently located, environment-controlled building of suitable and sufficient space for the secure housing of library resources, for the accommodation of users, including those engaged in research projects, and for the work requirements of the library staff.

Commentary:  Effective library services presuppose an adequate library building. It should be functional, secure, and provide suitable and sufficient work space for library staff, space for the collections, and comfortable reading and study areas for users. Temperature and humidity should be controlled at recommended levels. 
Maximum flexibility in the use of space allows for the possibility of rearrangement. 
There should be adequate signage for facilities and the collections.

7.1.2 The institution shall ensure ease of access to the library and its resources by people with disabilities.

7.2 The library shall be organised and equipped to manage the range of communications media in which information is available. This shall include provision for cabling.

7.3 The facilities shall be in accordance with the current occupational health, safety and welfare regulations.

Commentary:  The institution should have in place strategies to review government regulations and monitor compliance.

7.4 Except in special circumstances, the library's collections and services shall be housed and administered in a single structure.

Commentary:  Decentralised storage facilities may assist with space problems. Fragmentation of the collection, however, and its isolation may give rise to staffing and security issues and seriously delimit user access.

Part Eight: Associations and Professional Development 


8.1 The library and its staff shall maintain memberships and relations with relevant associations and professional colleagues.

Commentary:  Libraries and librarians are bound to benefit from membership in library associations, whether national, state, branch or chapter. Membership of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) or the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) and the Australian and New Zealand Theological Library Association (ANZTLA), and the receipt of their periodical publications, should ensure that staff are aware of recent developments in librarianship.

8.2 Library staff shall be encouraged and shall receive the support of their institutions to attend conferences, seminars and courses which are likely to enhance their professional development.

Commentary:  Membership of associations, attendance at conferences, seminars and workshops, participation in library-study courses and in continuing professional development programs, familiarity with library literature, are means by which librarians develop and maintain their knowledge and competencies. 
Institutions are encouraged to support the library staff's participation in such professional activities.







For the idea of a commentary on a standard, and for particular insights, we are indebted to several editions of Standards for college libraries, published by the College Libraries Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), which is a division of the American Library Association, and particularly the 1995 and the 2000 editions. 

Standards for college libraries, 1995 edition. Final version approved by the Association of College and Research Libraries Board and the American Library Association Standards Committee, February 1995. Published in C & RL news, April 1995. 

Standards for college libraries, 2000 edition. Final version approved January, 2000. Prepared by the ACRL College Libraries Section Standards Committee. <> [Accessed 21 February, 2000]. 

The 2000 edition deletes commentary material and substitutes a set of questions for each section of the standards. 

Also helpful was the accreditation document from the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. 

Standards of accreditation, Section 5: Library and Information Resources, of the Association of Theological Schools General Institutional Standards by The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, 1996. 
<> [Accessed 21 February, 2000]. 

Regarding distance education (Standard 5.6), ANZTLA librarians are referred to material distributed at the 1998 Conference by members of the library staff of Charles Sturt University, particularly, Distance education library service policy: guidelines for C(harles) S(turt) U(niversity) library staff. January 1997. 

A most detailed guide is the following publication from ACRL. 

ACRL guidelines for distance learning library services: the final version approved in July, 1998. 
<> [Accessed 21 February, 2000].

End of ANZTLA Standards 

Library Objectives
Budget and Accounting
Delivery of Services
Associations and Professional Development
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