Teens 13–18

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Talking Points for
School Libraries

10. Interactions with a school library media specialist aid children and teens in becoming confident, competent, and independent learners.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

…[R]esponding high schools report 16 weekly group visits, 10 of which are for information literacy instruction… For high schools that average more individual and group visits as well as more group visits for information literacy instruction, eleventh-grade ACT score gains averaged three to five percent over schools with less frequently visited libraries. (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2005)

The findings from our study can be roughly summarized by educational level as follows:

  1. At each grade level school library programs improve MCAS scores.
  2. At each grade level students score higher on MCAS tests when there is a higher per pupil book count.
  3. At each grade level student use of the library produces higher mean MCAS score;
  4. At each level hours open make a difference in MCAS scores.
(Baughman 2000)

Increases in eleventh grade reading scores are usually reported by Michigan high school libraries that have:

  • higher numbers and weekly hours of librarian and total library staff;
  • more total weekly hours of operation, and more weekly hours for flexible access/scheduling;
  • librarian spending more time supporting school computer networks;
  • larger collections of print volumes and video materials; and
  • access to more computers—both in the library and throughout the school—that provide links to Access Michigan, library catalogs and licensed databases, and the Internet and the World Wide Web; and
  • more frequent individual visits to the library; and
  • more money for library operations.
(Rodney, Lance and Hamilton-Pennell 2003)

Librarians and library programs appear to positively influence students’ reading skills development and test scores.
Librarians and library programs appear to positively influence the development of students reading interests. (Small, Shanahan, and Stasak 2010)

The development of independent, lifelong learners has long been an advocacy point of school librarians. They have focused on learners who have skills and interest for engaging with information out of school, for personal interest and ideas discovery and solving school-based and personal problems they encounter where information is needed in the process. 78.7% of students indicated that the school library helps them discover interesting topics other than their school work. (Todd and Kuhlthau 2003)

Principals, teachers, library media specialists, and students recognize the connection between students academic achievement and the skills and knowledge students derive from the library media program… The program gives students research and information technology tools and skills that they can use in all content areas. It develops their critical thinking ability and opens their eyes to a wide range of resources and information. It increases interest in reading and excitement about learning. (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

The autobiographies affirmed that the librarian has helped to develop the love of books and the sense of connectedness that students need in order to “want” to read. This in turn leads to choice reading, vocabulary increase, higher fluency and the ability to demonstrate those skills in a variety of ways. The individuals in the role of librarian have a huge impact on this willingness and interest in reading. (Collier 2007)

… [T]he results indicated that the way libraries were used differed between successful and unsuccessful schools. Successful schools schedule more class time in the library, spend more time allowing students to check out materials, have more individual student research hours, offer more time for reading incentive programs like Accelerated Reader, are used more frequently by faculty members for professional growth and classroom support, and are open more hours beyond the school day. (Roberson, Schweinle and Applin 2003)

Teens are regular and enthusiastic patrons who continue to visit and utilize the public library at increasingly greater rates.
In a 2007 poll, it was found that one-third of teens between the ages of 12–18 visited the public library ten times a year or more. Seventy-eight percent of teens who consider themselves “regular library visitors” borrow books and other materials for personal use from the public library on a frequent basis. Computer and online games have become part of the mix at many public libraries, and some use gaming to attract new patrons. Libraries’ response to gaming demonstrates the institutions’ flexibility and willingness to innovate in their response to changing audience interests. The Public Library Association’s 2007 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report, which tracked young adult service trends in public libraries, found that nearly 90% of the public libraries surveyed offer young adult services; over half (51.9%) employ at least one full-time equivalent staff person dedicated to fostering young adult programs and services. Compare this to 1994, when just 11% of libraries had a young adult librarian; 58% of librarians considered the lack of staff a barrier to increasing services for young adults and 61% indicated that insufficient services, resources, and programs were moderate or major barriers to increasing services and resources for young adults. (Harris Interactive 2007; Chute and Kroe 1995; Chute and Kroe 2007; American Library Association 2008; Public Library Association and Public Library Data Service 2007; Heaviside 1995)

Participation in library programs for kids under 18 has been rising steadily in recent years, from almost 35.6 million/year in 1993, to 60.9 million/year in 2008 (the last year for which these statistics are available). (Chute and Kroe 1995; Henderson et al 2010)

Public libraries can help students prepare for the demands of college life.
High schools are too focused on test taking and covering material to prepare students for the demands of college life. Key cognitive strategies needed for a smooth transition into college include: intellectual openness; inquisitiveness; analysis; interpretation; evidence-based reasoning and argumentation; and problem solving. Unfortunately, the development of these strategies “is often overshadowed by an instructional focus on the de-contextualized content and facts necessary to pass exit examinations.” Academic knowledge and skills such as writing and research skills, as well as the skills that come from deep exposure to content areas such as math, social studies, English, science, and foreign languages are also given short shrift in today’s high school classrooms, which are focused on moving quickly through subject matter. Academic behaviors that students need to be ready for college include independent time management and independent study skills. They also need contextual skills and awareness to figure out how to complete college and financial aid applications and handle personal finances, as well as life skills necessary for surviving the transition from the highly structured world of high school to the independence of college. Jobs (paid and unpaid) and other experiences at the public library can help prepare teens for the demands of college life. (Conley 2007)

Both high school FCAT and ACT scores are significantly higher where there is increased library usage (visits by individuals to the library media center). (Baumbach 2003)

… [H]aving an accessible high-quality collection correlates positively with reading comprehension and vocabulary, but it is not sufficient for overall academic achievement as measured by API scores. For that latter to occur, teaching and administrative principles also need to be implemented. (Farmer 2006)

Collaborative planning and instruction accounted for 17.7 percent of the variance in principles correlated with student academic achievement. The individual principles included: collaborative planning (the single most important factor within that factor), modeling effective teaching, integration of information literacy, facilities for learning, program planning assessment of student academic achievement, administrative support, and communication about the program. (Farmer 2006)