School librarians valuable resource as digital content expands

For Immediate Release
Tue, 10/19/2010


Melissa Jacobsen

CHICAGO –According to a survey by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), 61 percent of school library staff respondents provide professional development for teachers in the use of digital content. Of those providing training, 71 percent spend between one and six hours or more a week training teachers on digital resources.  This data was gleaned from a set of supplemental questions on Digital Content and Resources in the 2010 School Libraries Count! survey.

No significant shift from print to digital content was noted by survey participants; however, while 86% of elementary schools report less than 5% of their collection has moved to digital content, only 51% of high school libraries fall within that range.  Middle school libraries fall almost squarely in the middle with 69% reporting less than a 5% shift.  Nearly one in two schools (49%) report that their libraries have more than five database subscriptions.

"The continuing trend towards digital content has positioned school librarians as technology and professional development leaders in their school community," said Marcia Mardis, AASL Research & Statistics Committee chair. "Providing students with digital resources in a time when budgets are decreasing is a great way to start to level the playing field."

When asked what impact digital content will have on the future of school library programs, 77 percent of respondents believe there will be an increased demand for technical support. Six in ten of those surveyed reported that such an increase in digital content will cause an increased demand for network infrastructure in schools. However, more than half of respondents believe budget lines will shift but without increases.

Survey responses confirm that the impact of increased digital content extends beyond the school library walls. Fifty-eight percent noted that as digital resources continue to impact school library programs and student learning, there will be an increased need for remote access to school library resources from within the school. Forty-nine percent noted that this impact will also create an increased demand for remote access from outside the school.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents also noted that increased access to digital content will bring increased challenges to district filtering. Forty-six percent see increased intellectual freedom issues related to digital materials.

Findings are from the 2010 School Libraries Count! National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs (SLC). In addition to annual survey questions, starting in 2008 AASL began adding supplemental questions to address a current issue within the school library field. In 2010 AASL focused these questions on Digital Content and Resources.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.