Kindergarten–Middle School 6–12

Add It Up Logo

Talking Points for
School Libraries

11. The school library media program plays an important role in helping students get an overall conception of the information seeking process with all the different steps it contains.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

Comparison of means analysis found that, among elementary schools, those with higher test scores averaged 22 percent of librarian hours spent delivering library/IL instruction, compared with only 13 percent of low-achievement schools. (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000)

At the fourth grade level, there were significant positive correlations between English Language Arts CST scores and fourteen library staff services. The two strongest associations were with informal instructing students in the use of resources,… and communication proactively with principal…
At the eighth grade level, there were also fourteen services that were significantly related to English Language Arts CST scores, with the three strongest being communicating proactively with principal, offering a program of curriculum-integrated information literacy instruction, and total services… (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;
  • 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...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.... (Rodney, Lance and Hamilton-Pennell 2002)

Typically, responding middle school libraries report 18 group visits per week, eight of which are for information literacy instruction…
For middle schools that have more group visits, and especially more group visits for information literacy instruction, eighth-grade ISAT writing performance averages more than 10 and almost nine percent, respectively, better than for schools with libraries visited less often. (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2005)

Fourth grade reading scores tend to be higher for Michigan elementary schools whose school libraries report:

  • library staff spending more time on motivating readers, developing collections, meeting with other librarians, teaching information literacy skills, and planning with teachers;
  • more availability of 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;
  • more group visits, more individual and group visits for information literacy instruction, and higher circulation per week
(Rodney, Lance and Hamilton-Pennell 2003)

For Michigan middle schools, seventh grade reading test scores usually rise as school libraries report:

  • high numbers and weekly hours of librarian and total library staff;
  • offering more weekly hours for flexible access/scheduling;
  • librarians spending more time planning and teaching cooperatively with classroom teachers, and providing in-service training to teachers;
  • larger collections of print volumes and video materials;
  • access to more library and school computers that connect to Access Michigan, library catalogs and licensed databases, and the Internet and the World Wide Web;
  • more frequent individual and group visits to the library; and
  • spending more on library operations. (Rodney, Lance and Hamilton-Pennell 2003)

    Overall, the qualitative responses of the participants collectively show the contribution of school libraries to the development of the whole child. The school library is portrayed as an agency for intellectual development, for social and cultural growth of students as they grow up in a complex and diverse information world. According to the evidence provided by the school librarians, the school library works to meet core content standards, to develop a wide range of information handling competencies and to provide students with the intellectual and technical scaffolds they need to learn and be ethical and productive users and consumers of information.
    School librarians in New Jersey clearly do engage in a range of information literacy instruction initiatives. This instruction primarily centers on knowing about the school library, knowing about difference sources and formats, with sound levels related to understanding the different strategies in doing effective research, learning how to use the resources, evaluating information for quality, and learning to use information ethically. (Todd, Gordon and Lu 2010)

    The school library, particularly the initiating intervention of the school librarian, engages students in an information needs/questioning process that enables students to start their research, focus their searches, get input on the scope of their projects, identify information needs, understand the nature of the task and provide resource pathways. (Todd and Kuhlthau 2004)

    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)

    Schools in which teacher-librarians were spending more hours offering student reading incentives, providing more information skill group contacts per week, and identifying materials for teachers were more likely to be higher achieving schools. High performing school teacher-librarians spent an average of 3.0 hours per week on reading incentive activities, twice that of counterparts at low performing schools. High performing school teacher-librarians also spent 2.8 hours per week identifying materials for teachers, more than double that of counterparts at low performing schools. (Haycock 2011)

    School libraries seeing more group visits per week and more items circulation per week, were more likely to be at higher achieving schools… High performing school libraries received an average of 19.9 student group visits per week versus 13.8 at low performing school libraries. Teacher-librarians at high performing schools had an average of 13.1 information skills group contacts per week versus 8.3 at low performing schools. And circulation numbers were 42% higher at schools with better school achievement. (Haycock 2011)

    Library media specialists play an essential role in the learning community by ensuring that students and staff are efficient and effective users of ideas and information. (Scholastic 2008)

    Students whose library media specialists played an instructional role—either by identifying materials to be used with teacher-planned instructional units or by collaborating with teachers in planning instructional units—tend to achieve higher average test scores. | (Lance, Rodney and Hamilton-Pennell 2000a)

    Ninety percent of the students recognized that the school library had helped to boost their confidence as proficient information seekers and users, enabling them to work independently; 91.8% of the students appreciated the school library’s help regarding working out the most important information, and sorting and analyzing information. | (Todd 2005)

    Library media specialists have an important role to play regarding the use of technology to support teaching and learning in their schools. Seventy-four percent of respondents provide guidance to students in the use of digital resources at least once a week. | (Small, Snyder and Parker 2008)

    School library media specialists in “A” elementary schools

    • Are more likely to work with individuals visiting the media center than with groups.
    • Spend more time planning for lessons taught independently of teachers.
    • Spend more time working collaboratively and teaching with teachers.
    • Spend more time involved in reading incentive activities and programs.
    (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)