Stock quality health check

Last updated:  06 May 2024

Library collections serve as a reflection of their communities and the wider world. Books can help us with different ways of viewing the world.

There are different tools and methods for assessing collections for diversity including exploring data from a library management system, and feedback or suggestions from the community. The adult fiction collection stock quality health check is a tool that can be used by NSW public libraries to analyse their collections. 

The adult fiction stock quality health check is a representative list of 500 titles developed by librarians, spanning multiple genres, which indicate a representative or “healthy” collection. Public libraries use the list to undertake an assessment of the relevance, depth and range of collection stock in relation to the communities they serve. 


Adult collection stock quality health checks were used by NSW public libraries to analyse their collections in 2011, 2017 and 2023.

The 2023 adult fiction stock quality health check sought to explore representation in adult fiction collections. 65 libraries completed the adult fiction stock quality health check in May 2023. The report brings together the results of the stock quality health check. The attachments highlight data for further exploration.


The health check highlighted four genres which were underrepresented across NSW public libraries: fantasy, horror, science fiction and romance. In response to these findings the State Library hosted four webinars with genre experts in 2023.


The stock quality health check (SQHC) tool allows your library to assess the balance and diversity of your adult fiction collection.  

Based on methodology developed by Opening the Book in the UK, the model has been adapted for NSW public libraries. The SQHC tool for NSW public libraries was first developed in 2011, then updated in 2017 and 2023.  

The SQHC tool provides you with a spreadsheet containing a checklist of 500 inclusive and diverse titles across nine genres developed in collaboration with a project team of NSW public library staff. The spreadsheet calculates a score indicating which areas of your adult fiction collection require development.

The 2023 adult fiction SQHC list has inclusive and diverse titles from nine genres: Action adventure, Contemporary, Crime mystery, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Romance, Science fiction, and Thriller suspense. Genres such as Westerns and Military were included within other genres, but not separately identified.

Information has also been included about the diversity of the author including First Nations, cultural background, gender and sexuality. The First Nations country or nation is provided, if known. CALD authors are described in terms they use to describe themselves, for example African American is used for writers from the USA, while Black is used for writers from England.


Classics and popular authors are still important to include in your library collection. These have not been included in the 2023 SQHC list as its purpose is to help you increase the diversity of your collection by adding recent publications to your current holdings.

How to use the tool

  1. Download the adult fiction stock quality health check tool
  2. Read the instructions on the Read me first tab  
  3. Complete each of the 9 tabs on the spreadsheet 
  4. Check the summary sheet on the final tab, this shows results for your library for each genre as a percentage.

Next steps

Once you have completed the stock quality health check you may notice strengths or gaps in your collection. This includes asking questions such as the following:

  • Are you surprised with the results? Why/Why not?  
  • What might be some of the reasons the score is low/high in each genre/category?  
  • What will you do to improve your collection in this genre/category?  Consider adding titles from this genre to your collection.