CHICAGO — Two school library-related research projects, “The Principals’ Perspectives on the Value of School Librarians in Teaching and Learning Case Study” and "Bark If You R.E.A.D. in School Libraries: Can School Librarians with Therapy Dogs and Reading Support Skills Be an Effective Part of a School's Literacy Intervention Team?" are the 2013 recipients of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Research Grant sponsored by Capstone. Established in 1993, two AASL Research Grants are given to school librarians, library educators or library information science or education professors to conduct innovative research aimed at measuring and evaluating the impact of school library programs on learning and education.
“The committee has chosen two outstanding grant winners that are both unique in their topics and approaches and which may produce findings that have potential to inform across the profession,” said Nancy Everhart, award committee chair.
Two researchers out of Texas Woman's University, Judi Moreillon, assistant professor in the school of library and information studies, and Teresa Starrett, assistant professor in the department of teacher education, will investigate the factors involved in a principal’s decision to eliminate and subsequently reinstate one or more school librarian positions. Moreillon and Starrett will also ask study participants to describe the role of the school librarian in the teaching and learning community at their schools. The goal of “The Principals’ Perspectives on the Value of School Librarians in Teaching and Learning Case Study” is to produce a professional video that will inform, educate and advocate for the role of 21st-century school librarians in helping students, teachers, administrators and parents meet student achievement goals.
To complete their project, Moreillon and Starrett have secured the support of the Dallas Independent School District. Working with principals in the district, the researchers will conduct inventories, individual interviews and a focus group. They will also secure video testimonials for the final video product. This data will be analyzed and compiled in a report published in AASL’s scholarly journal, School Library Research, and the American Association for School Administrators’ publication, The Journal of Scholarship and Practice. The video will be available online for use by educational stakeholders and will be linked to all study publications.
In her study, Linda Robinson, coordinator of library/media services for the Mansfield (Conn.) Public School District, will explore the impact a school librarian who is trained in both literacy support and facilitating therapy dog interactions can provide in reading intervention. "Bark If You R.E.A.D. in School Libraries: Can School Librarians with Therapy Dogs and Reading Support Skills Be an Effective Part of a School's Literacy Intervention Team?" will assess the use of Reading Educational Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D) on improving the reading skills of below level students.
During the study, R.E.A.D. dog handlers will be provided with reading support training, and a collaborative relationship between reading teachers and R.E.A.D. handlers will be facilitated. The reading team will meet with students in the school library in two separate six-week sessions, and reading assessment tests will be administered to students both before and after these sessions. Robinson will analyze this data to see if this creative approach to weaving in the expertise of school librarians certified as both R.E.A.D. handlers and trained to offer literacy support could provide a unique way for school librarians to showcase their invaluable role in supporting reading and contribute a significant method for assisting low level readers to succeed. Robinson’s findings will be published in School Library Research, and she will pursue the publication of an article in an animal therapy publication or in journals related specifically to reading, such as those published by the International Reading Association.
The researchers and other AASL award recipients will be honored at AASL's Awards Luncheon during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. The luncheon will be held Monday, July 1. Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/annual.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, 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.