Teens 13–18

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Talking Points for
School Libraries

14. Students are more successful academically when their teachers benefit from professional development opportunities offered by their library media specialist colleagues.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

At the high school level… [t]he relationship between English Language Arts CST scores and library services was very similar in strength to that of U.S. History CST scores… The strongest bivariate correlations included total services… providing teachers with information about new resources… and informally instructed students in the use of resources... (Achterman 2008)

It is clear from the findings that there are some highly effective school libraries in Delaware—school libraries that are strongly integrated into the learning fabric of the school and which contribute to student learning outcomes. These school libraries have a common set of characteristics:

  • a state-certified, full time, library media specialist in the building;
  • the availability of para-professional staff who undertake routine administrative tasks and free the library media specialist to undertake instructional initiatives and reading literacy initiatives;
  • a library program that is based on flexible scheduling so that library media specialists and classroom teachers can engage in collaborative planning and delivery of information literacy instruction;
  • an active instructional program of information literacy integrated into curriculum content, and targeted towards learning curriculum content and skills;
  • a school library that meets resource recommendations of 15-20 books per child;
  • the provision of professional development on information literacy and technology literacies to the teaching faculty;
  • a budget allocation of $12-$15 per student per year to ensure currency and vitality of the information base;
  • a strong networked information technology infrastructure that facilitates access to and use of information resources in an and out of school.
(Todd 2005)

Library media specialists (LMSs) exert a complex web of effects on the LM programs. Findings about these effects are summed up in the following description of a strong LM program. A strong LM program is one

  • that is adequately staffed, stocked, and funded. Minimally, this means one full-time library media specialist (LMS) and one full-time aide. The relationship, however, is incremental; as the staffing, collections and funding of LM programs grow, reading scores rise.
  • whose staff are actively involved leaders in their school’s teaching and learning enterprise. A successful LMS is one who has the ear and support of the principal, serves with other teachers on the school’s standards and curriculum committees, and holds regular meetings of the LM staff. Students succeed where the LMS participates with classroom teachers and administrators in making management decisions that encourage higher levels of achievement by every student.
  • whose staff have collegial, collaborative relationships with classroom teachers. A successful LMS is one who works with a classroom teacher to identify materials that best support and enrich an instructional unit, is a teacher of essential information literacy skills to students, and, indeed, is a provider of in-service training opportunities to classroom teachers. Students succeed where the LMS is a consultant to, a colleague with, and a teacher of other teachers.
  • that embraces networked information technology. The library media center of today is no longer a destination; it is a point of departure for accessing the information resources that are the essential raw material of teaching and learning. Computers in classrooms, labs and other school locations provide networked access to information resource—the library catalog, electronic full text, licensed databases, locally mounted databases, and the Internet. Students succeed where the LM program is not a place to go, apart from other sites of learning in the school, but rather an integral part of the educational enterprise that reaches out to students and teachers where they are.
(Rodney, Lance and Hamilton-Pennell 2002)

Schools at every grade level tended to have more students scoring at the advanced level on both reading and language arts if their administrators had assessed highly the teaching of ICT standards. This is perhaps the most important finding of this study, because those self-assessments also tend to coincide with administrators placing a high value on key library-related practices and desiring that their libraries play certain roles. Those practices include:

  • flexible scheduling of library access,
  • instructional collaboration between teachers and librarian,
  • provision of in-service professional development to faculty by librarians,
  • regular meetings between principal and librarian,
  • the librarian serving on school committees, and
  • the librarian’s instructional role being addressed in teacher hiring interviews.
Notably, librarians credentialed as library media specialists (LMSs) were more likely than their non-LMS counterparts to report at least weekly activities associated with these practices. Indeed, LMS librarians were three times as likely as non-LMS librarians to report at least weekly instructional collaboration and provision of in-service professional development. (Lance, Rodney and Schwarz 2010)

The wider spectrum of activities involved in true collaboration between school librarians and classroom teachers demonstrates an impact at the high school level, particularly through the links between those activities and eleventh-grade test scores. On a weekly basis, at the typical responding high school, library staff spends:

  • three hours identifying materials for teachers,
  • two hours planning with teachers,
  • one hour motivating students to read,
  • one hour teaching with teachers
  • almost an hour serving on school committees, and
  • half an hour meeting with library staff from another school or district
When library staff spends more time on these activities, ACT scores increase an average of three to four percent over the scores for schools with less collaborative library staff. (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2005)

The data show that a substantial number of school librarians in New Jersey actively provide a range of information technology-related professional development activities to faculty. This is commendable, and shows a clear commitment to whole school development in term of effective use of information technology. The highest levels of involvement are in high schools, with lowest levels of participation among elementary school librarians. (Todd, Gordon and Lu 2010)

Principals often perceive their librarian as the technology leader in the school. Librarians have an impact on both teachers’ and students’ technology use. (Small, Shanahan and Stasak 2010)

… [H]igher and lower scoring elementary schools are distinguished by the amount of time school library staff spend in teaching students and teachers how to access and use print and electronic information resources. At higher achieving schools library staff spend three days on such activities for every two by lower achieving schools… At higher achieving schools at all grade levels, library staff are involved in committees and provide in-service training to teachers. Library staff at lower achieving schools usually do not engage in these activities at all. (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2000b)

TAAS performance was associated with different library factors at each educational level. Library variables found to be important were:

  • Library staff per 100 students
  • Library staff hours per 100 students
  • Library hours of operation per 100 students
  • Volumes per students
  • Current subscriptions to magazines and newspapers per 100 students
  • Planning instructional units with teachers
  • Providing staff development to teachers
(Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2001)

Teachers view [library media specialists] as an indispensable source of ideas, help, and support and continuously seek their expertise. Teachers recognize that the assistance the LMS provides in identifying resources saves them countless hours. They are cognizant that even if they had the time, they would not have had the knowledge for identifying such an array of resources. (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

… [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. From 1993 to 2005, the numbers for attendance at programs for children and young adults have steadily increased, from over 35.6 million/year in 1993 to 54.6 million/year in 2005. 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)

Students in better staffed programs [i.e., those with more library media specialists and more LMS hours] scored 8.4 to 21.8 percent higher on ACT English tests and 11.7 to 16.7 percent higher on ACT Reading tests compared to students in schools where library media programs had fewer resources. | (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

At the elementary level, four out of five schools (more than 80%) with full-time librarians had more students [i.e., average or above] who earned proficient or above proficient test scores on the CAT5 tests for reading, language arts, and mathematics. Among [elementary] schools with only part-time librarians, two out of three (more than 65%) had more high-achievement students—a lower proportion than for schools with full-time librarians, but a higher one than for schools with no librarian at all. Among the latter group of schools, fewer than three out of five (less than 60 percent) had more high-achievement students. | (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000a)

At the secondary level… Nine out of ten schools (over 90 percent) with full-time librarians had more students who earned proficient or above proficient test scores. Among [secondary] schools with only part-time librarians, almost seven out of ten (almost 70 percent) had more high-achievement students—a lower proportion than for schools with full-time librarians, but a higher one than for schools with no librarian at all. Among the latter group of schools [i.e., no librarian at all], only about half (just over 50 percent) had more high-achievement students. | (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000a)