Kindergarten-Middle School 6–12

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Public Libraries   

When the act of reading extends beyond the schoolroom and becomes part of daily life, ongoing literacy is on its way to becoming a reality.” (Donahue et al 2001)

Programming and outreach for children and young adults is an important part of public library services. In 2006, there were over 102,000 library programs geared towards young adults with a total attendance of 2.1 million students. Under school outreach efforts, 70% of libraries reported that classes visited the library and 73% reported that the library visited classes. Libraries also reported strong partnerships with other organizations to serve youth: 66% with youth organizations, 54% with recreational organizations, 52% with cultural organizations, and 38% with health or mental health organizations. In 2006, 77% of libraries reported they had a children’s or young adult page on their website. (Public Library Association 2007)

Libraries are uniquely positioned to respond to the achievement gap, because they draw families from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Libraries are second only to religious-sponsored events as the destinations of choice for family outings regardless of parents’ economic and education levels. (Vaden-Kiernan and McManus 2006; Sonenberg 2005; McClure and Bertot 1998)

Libraries provide portals for children to perform age-appropriate Internet searches. More than 68% of libraries reported offering homework resources in 2006–2007—serving the educational needs of more than 36 million school-age children—up 7.3% from the previous year. Almost 68% of library staff reported that providing educational resources and databases for K–12 students was most critical to the role of the public library branch in their community. (American Library Association and Florida State University 2007; Davis et al 2008)

Households with children under 18 are regular and prominent users of the public library. In 2001, 65.6% of households with children under 18 used public libraries. Nationwide, more households with children under 18 used a library in the past month for a school assignment (22%) than to participate in programs for children under 13 (10%) or for teenagers, ages 13 to 18 (3%). Among households with children under 18, a larger percentage of Black and Asian households (25% and 26% respectively) used a public library in the last month for a school assignment than did white or Hispanic households (22% and 20% respectively). Forty-one percent of households with children under 18 used a public library or bookmobile in the past month to borrow materials. This is compared to 28% of households with any members ages 18 to 64, and 19% of households with any members aged 65 or older. (Glander and Dam 2007)

Public libraries are in an ideal position to serve students as an after-school activities and services venue. Of K–8 students who participated in weekly non-parental after-school care arrangements, 77% participated in homework, educational, reading, or writing activities. This number was stable across student characteristics—such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity—and family characteristics, such as family type, household income, and poverty status. (Carver and Iruka 2006)

Fourth grade students who read for fun every day score the highest on reading assessment tests.

The three-quarters of students who reported reading for fun on their own time once a week or more performed at the high end of the Basic level (scores from 208-237 on the NAEP reading assessment test), while the 14% of students who never or hardly ever read for fun performed below the Basic level (scores below 208 on the test). Students who talked about their reading with family and friends on a weekly basis had a higher average score than students who talked about their books once a month or less. Sixty-one percent reported talking about their reading with family and friends at least weekly. (Donahue et al 2001; Nussbaum 2006; Lance and Marks 2008)

Reading for pleasure is one of the building blocks for young people to grow into healthy, productive adults.

(Search Institute; O'Donnell-Allen 2006)

Differences in reading activities and family involvement in summer learning beginning in first grade account for the achievement gap that give children from high socio-economic status an advantage over children from low socio-economic backgrounds. The best way to address the achievement gap is to provide disadvantaged children with rich and engaging educational programs during the summer months. (Alexander, Entwisle and Olson 2007)

Public library summer reading programs can have a profound impact, especially on children living in poverty. On the whole, these children have a greater summer learning loss than do children from affluent families, and any gains that they had over the summer were smaller than their peers whose families had higher incomes. Twice as many fourth graders (58% versus 27%) from disadvantaged families fell below the basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than did students from more affluent families, and far fewer tested at a proficient level (13% verses 40%). (Allington and McGill-Franzen 2003; Krashen and Shin 2004; Alexander, Entwisle and Olson 2007)

Library summer reading programs have a major impact on student reading levels, ability, and enjoyment. An evaluation of summer reading programs in Los Angeles found that participating children spent more time looking at and reading books than before they joined the program. During the summer, the percent of children reading 10–14 hours a week increased by nine percentage points and the proportion of children reading 15 or more hours a week rose by 11 percentage points. Teachers contacted as part of the Los Angeles study found that the difference between students who participated in summer library programs and those who did not was readily apparent the following fall. The most dramatic difference was that participants were much more enthusiastic about reading: 55% had a high enthusiasm for reading compared to less than 40% of non-participants. Teachers also reported that participating students who were reading above grade level before the summer were more likely to maintain this reading level than peers who did not participate in the summer reading program. (Evaluation & Training Institute 2001)

Regular access to public libraries can make the difference between summer setback and summer success. Children who reported easy access to books read more books. Reading as few as four to five books over the summer can prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall. (Kim 2004; Preddy 2007)

Public libraries increase literacy levels among elementary school children through summer reading programs, which are particularly effective at addressing the achievement gap. Summer reading programs increase young people’s interest in reading by combining silent reading with opportunities for children to read out loud, listen to stories, and take part in creative activities inspired by what they’ve read. These programs have also been very effective at drawing parents into students’ reading lives, a crucial element in developing strong reading habits. (Celano and Neuman 2001)

Public libraries are the top source of curriculum or books for homeschooled students. In 2003, approximately 1.1 million students, or 2.2% of the K–12 student population, were being homeschooled, with 78% of homeschooled students (ages 5–17, with grade equivalent of K–12) and their parents reporting they used the public library as a source of curriculum or books. (Princiotta and Bielick 2006)

For Latinos who visited the library weekly or more, the second most common reason for their visits was to take their children (33.6%). They were more satisfied with children’s books (91.9% and movies (86.9%) in English than with the same materials in Spanish (76.5% and 66.9% respectively). Satisfaction was also high with programs for children (85.5%). (Flores and Pachon 2008)

Circulation of young adult materials is strong, despite the fact that libraries only spend an average of 5.2 percent of their materials budget on young adult materials. In the fiscal year 2006, an average of 4.7 items per young adult circulated, with a materials cost of $2.97 per young adult. (Public Library Association 2007)

Eighty percent of Americans think that all children need access to a good, safe, and appealing library. Of the top public priorities for public libraries, having enough current children’s books ranked second (82% of respondents) and providing reading hours and other programs for children ranked fifth (79% of respondents). (Public Agenda 2006)

Nationwide, circulation of children’s materials was 716.4 million, or 35 percent of total circulation, in FY 2005. Attendance at children’s programs was 54.6 million. (Chute and Kroe 2007)

Public library programming and books for children make a difference. Of states ranking in the top half of all states on reading scores, more than four-fifths (82%) ranked in the top half on circulation of children’s materials per capita. Of states ranking in the top half on reading scores, seven out of 10 (70%) ranked in the top half on attendance at children’s programs per capita. (Lance and Marks 2008)

School Library Media Programs   

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 score. (Lance, Welborn and Hamilton-Pennell 1993)

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 elementary schools with a certified (vs. non-certified) library media specialist, students have significantly higher achievement scores on the 4th grade ELA test. (Small, Snyder and Parker 2008)

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)

The presence of trained library staff is associated with higher achievement in reading for grade 6 students… approximately 5.5 percentile points higher than the average. (Ontario Library Association 2006)

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)

At the elementary level, four out of five schools (over 80 percent) 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 (over 65 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, fewer than three out of five (less than 60 percent) had more high-achievement students. (Lance, Hamilton-Pennell and Rodney 2000)

[T]he library media programs in the top [25 elementary] schools [based on fourth grade performance on standardized reading tests] had … 7.7 percent more library media program dollars per student [than the 25 lowest scoring schools] ($27.80 vs. $25.80).The library media programs in the 25 top middle/junior high schools [based on eighth grade performance on standardized reading tests] … had … 19.3 percent more operating dollars per student [than the 25 lowest scoring schools] ($24.76 vs. $20.76). (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

The presence of a teacher-librarian was the single strongest predictor of reading enjoyment for both grades 3 and 6 students. Larger schools tended to have higher average reading enjoyment scores, and are also more likely to have teacher-librarians. Schools with teacher-librarians could be expected to have reading enjoyment scores that were 8 percentile points higher than average. (Ontario Library Association 2006)

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)

There is a positive and statistically significant relationship between children’s services in public libraries and early reading success at school. Storytimes, lap-sit programs, and other services for young children are a major part of most public libraries’ missions. New state data from across the country confirms these services play a significant role in preparing children for success as readers. (Lance and Marks 2008)

In nearly half the classrooms (46%), at least one out of five kids was inadequately prepared for kindergarten when they started schools. A 2004 poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. was the first national survey in more than a decade to solicit kindergarten teachers’ opinions on the value of pre-kindergarten. Nine out of ten teachers agreed that “substantially more” children would succeed in school if all families had access to quality pre-kindergarten programs. The agreement rate rose to nearly 100% among teachers with mostly poor, minority children in their classes. (Mason-Dixon Polling 2004)

Four out of five responding library media specialists reported the occurrence of various activities on at least a weekly or monthly basis. These included: teachers asking the library media specialist for instructional design resources (78%). Three out of five reported … teachers asking for help in learning new information-seeking skills (57%). About half of library media specialists reported that, on a weekly or monthly basis, they provide in-service learning opportunities to teachers (48%). Across grade levels, better-performing schools tended to be those whose principals placed a higher value on having their library media specialist provide in-service opportunities to classroom teachers (65.57% passing for essential or desirable vs. 50.63% passing for acceptable or unnecessary—a proportional increase of 29.5%). (Lance, Rodney and Russell 2007)

Library media staff in the top performing middle schools spent 25.4 percent more time providing staff development to teachers or other staff than the 25 lowest scoring schools (1.48 vs. 1.18 hours per week). Library staff in the top high schools spent more time on … collaboration … activities than library staff in the bottom schools. They are particularly more active in providing staff development to teachers and staff (1.31 vs. 0.35 hours per week). (Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2001; Smith and EGS Research & Consulting 2006)

Reading is a foundational skill for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment. The degree to which students can read and understand text in all formats (e.g., pictures, video, print) and all contexts is a key indicator of success in school and in life. As a lifelong learning skill, reading goes beyond decoding and comprehension to interpretation and development of new understandings. (American Association of School Librarians 2007)

School libraries provide equitable physical and intellectual access to the resources and tools required for learning in a warm, stimulating, and safe environment. School librarians collaborate with others to provide instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using the essential learning skills needed in the 21st century. (American Association of School Librarians 2007)