National IMLS research summit focuses on school librarians and student achievement

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/08/2014


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – Fifty research scholars from across the nation will gather in Chicago to participate in the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) research summit. Focused on setting an agenda for future school library research, the “Causality: School Libraries and Student Success (CLASS)” summit will take place April 11-12, 2014.

“AASL is bringing together a ‘brain trust’ of school library and educational researchers to look critically at the relationship between school library programs and positive contributions to student achievement,” said Gail Dickinson, AASL president. “Multiple studies suggest fully funded school library programs staffed by certified school librarians increases student achievement as measured by standardized tests.  We intend for the CLASS Forum to instigate a sea of change in educational research at all levels, from practitioners to scholars, away from the current emphasis on correlational studies and moving toward more significant causal studies.”

The summit includes keynote speaker Thomas Cook, professor and faculty research fellow from Northwestern (Ill.) University. Cook’s research interests include social science research methodology, program evaluation, school reform and contextual factors that influence adolescent development, particularly for urban minorities. He will be joined by an expert panel of scholars and practitioners from information science, library studies and education. Panelists include John Brock, associate, New York State Education Department; Marcia Mardis, associate professor, Florida State University; Joseph Maxwell, professor, George Mason University; Shana Pribesh, associate professor, Old Dominion University; and Paul Lanata, director of library media services, Jefferson County (Ky.) Public Schools.

The panel will be moderated by Jody Howard, director of the Palmer School, Long Island University and Sue Kimmel, assistant professor, Old Dominion University.

CLASS brings together school library and educational researchers to create a national focus and agenda on causal research and provide empirical evidence that school libraries make positive contributions to student achievement. Participants will examine the issues of causality related to student learning and school libraries to articulate a research agenda and investigate causal phenomena in school library instruction, resources and services. The summit will result in a white paper to be published in May 2014. Additionally, the white paper and research findings will be presented at a session during the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The session will take place from 3 - 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 29.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number LG-62-13-0212-13. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

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.