Teens 13–18

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Talking Points for
School Libraries

17. Students and their teachers make more effective use of the Internet and other digital resources after learning about them from school library media specialists.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

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)

At every grade level, schools with more library and library-connected computers—particularly, in the latter case, Internet computers relative to the school’s enrollment—average higher test scores. The presence of more library computers is associated with percentage increases of:

  • 8 percent for fifth-and-eighth grade ISAT reading performance,
  • almost 11 percent for eighth-grade ISAT writing performance
  • just over 5 percent for eleventh-grade ACT scores.
(Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2005)

At the high school level, schools with automated collections have higher average 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)

The school libraries in the high-performing schools spent over two and a half times as much money per 100 students on electronic access to information (e.g., online database searching, Internet access) than did those in the low-performing schools. (Burgin, Bracy and Brown 2004)

School librarians in New Jersey clearly take a strong instructional role in the providing students with the intellectual and technical scaffolds to engage with information technology in efficient and productive ways. Teaching search strategies, both in relation to the internet and specialized databases, library catalogs and directories, is given the most widespread emphasis. It is particularly encouraging to see the early adoption and integration of a range of web 2.0 technologies, tools and techniques to support curriculum content standards. This is highly commendable. (Todd, Gordon and Lu 2010)

Librarians and library programs appear to positively influence students’ research-skills development and motivation for research and inquiry, particularly in the use of information technologies such as databases and the Web.
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)

84.9% of the students indicated that school library computers help them do their school work better… Two key features stand out in the students’ comments. First, students see a clear relationship between being able to access information through information technology, and achievement, in research assignments and projects. Second, the instructional intervention of the school librarian in developing students as effective users of information technology to search for information, and the development of students as discerning evaluators of web information plays a role in achieving good grades. (Todd and Kuhlthau 2003)

… [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)

Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) reading scores increase in the following characteristics of school library information programs: staffing, information technology, and integration of information literacy into the curriculum. (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2000b)

Where networked computers link school libraries with classrooms, labs, and other instructional sites, student earn higher PSSA reading test scores. These higher scores are particularly linked to the numbers of computers enabling teachers and students to utilize:

  • the ACCESS PENNSYLVANIA database;
  • licensed databases; and
  • Internet/World Wide Web.
(Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2000b)

In addition to being an instructional leader, the LMS of the five schools also serves as the technology integration leader… Being technologically proficient and knowledgeable about current and new technologies, the LMS is the motivating force behind the integration of technology into the curriculum. She facilitates integration by identifying electronic resources and tools for use with different curricular units. (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

The successful schools in the present sample had more print volumes, more magazine subscriptions, more electronic subscriptions, more video materials, more reference titles on CD-ROM, and more student software packages available for student use. (Roberson, Schweinle and Applin 2003)

Effective school libraries are much more than books. They are learning hubs, each with a full range of print and electronic resources that support student achievement. (Scholastic 2008)

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)

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)

In Florida high schools, FCAT scores are higher where:

  • The library media center is staffed more hours per week.
  • There are more certified library media specialists.
  • There are more paid library media staff members.
  • There are more interlibrary loans provided to other schools in the district.
  • There are more visits to the library media center to use technology.
  • There are more networked computers in the school and more computers with Internet access.
  • There are more computers in the library media center and more computers have Internet access.
(Baumbach 2003)

Library networking (human and electronic) accounted for 8.2 percent of the variance in principles correlated with student academic achievement. The individual principles included: LMS meetings and library networking. (Farmer 2006)