Kindergarten–Middle School 6–12

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Talking Points for
School Libraries

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

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

Librarians and library programs appear to positively influence students’ reading skills development and test scores...[and l]ibrarians 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 2004)

The presence of a teacher-librarian was the single strongest predictor of reading enjoyment for both grades 3 and 6 students. (Ontario Library Association 2006)

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)

Findings from a study among schools in British Columbia reinforce previous research suggesting that an easily accessed, well-funded, well-staffed, well-managed, well-stocked, integrated and heavily used school library correlated to higher student achievement. (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)

… [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)

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)

In Minnesota schools with above average student scores on the Grade 3, 5, and 8 reading tests, 66.8% were schools where the media specialist worked full-time. Twice as many schools with above average scores had full-time media specialists. Student reading achievement in elementary and secondary schools is related to increases in school library media program spending. | (Baxter and Smalley 2004)

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)