Educational Role of the Library

Reading scores rise with a full-time endorsed librarian

In 2011, schools with at least one FTE [ full-time equivilent] endorsed librarian averaged significantly higher advanced CSAP reading scores (8% vs. 6%) and significantly lower unsatisfactory scores (9% vs. 11%) than schools with less than one FTE endorsed librarian [a library assistant or non-endorsed librarian]. 

Negative relationship between unsatisfactory reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing

There is a negative and statistically significant relationship between unsatisfactory reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing trends.Schools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have fewer students scoring unsatisfactory in reading in 2011 (i.e., lower scores) (28% and 26%, respectively) and to have reduced that problem more since 2005 (i.e., lower increase) than schools that either lost their librarians or never had one (both at 34%). Conversely, schools that either lost a librarian during this period or never had one (32% and 34%) tended to have more students scoring unsatisfactory in 2011 and to have seen that problem increase more since 2005 than schools that maintained or gained a librarian (21% and 30%).Notably, schools with the largest percentage of lower unsatisfactory reading scores in 2011 and lower increases in that figure between 2005 and 2011 (34%) were those that gained an endorsed librarian during the interval. As with advanced reading scores, if an endorsed librarian is doing her or his job well, this is what one would expect.

Significant relationship between reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing

There is a positive and statistically significant relationship between advanced reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing trendsSchools that either maintained or gained an endorsed librarian between 2005 and 2011 tended to have more students scoring advanced in reading in 2011 and to have increased their performance more since 2005 (45% and 49%, respectively) than schools that either lost their librarians or never had one ( 33% and 29%). Conversely, schools that either lost a librarian during that period or never had one (33% and 39%) tended to have fewer students scoring advanced in 2011 and to have seen lesser gains—or indeed, losses—since 2005 than schools that maintained or gained a librarian (23% and 18%).

Libraries are essential to the academic enterprise

Academic staff members spent a large portion of their work time on scholarly reading. They value the outcomes this reading has on their research and teaching. The amount of time they spend on reading from the library’s collections is evidence of the importance of library-provided scholarly materials to academic work. The value academic reading has on the work of the university is apparent, and the university library, especially for article readings, is essential to the quality of the academic enterprise (p. 122). 

Library collections support academics

Of the 448 hours per year spent on scholarly reading, the average academic staff member spends 187 hours reading library-provided material, confirming the value of the library’s collections (p. 120).

Library materials are crucial to academic institutions

Once [the respondents] became aware of the last article they read, we asked where they obtained the article. Of the 1189 responses to the question, almost two-thirds (775, 65.2%) of the readings are obtained through a library subscription. Many respondents praised the importance of library sources, including one respondent who summed it up as, “Accessibility of scholarly journals and other library resources is crucial to the standing and effectiveness of a university and is a key discriminator between world-class universities and less prestigious institutions” (p. 40). 

Value of academic reference service

Using CV, this study shows that the average student on the academic campus of VCU values reference desk services at approximately $5.59 per semester. The average member of the instructional faculty values this service at $45.76 per year. No attempt was made to estimate the value that university staff and the general public place on reference desk service. Given reasonable assumptions about the cost of service, students and faculty place a value on the current hours of reference desk service that exceeds the cost by a ratio of 3.5 to 1 (pp. 67-68).

The educational programs and materials, as well as the educational mission of the library have value.

This includes the encouragement for young people to read (and the role libraries play in creating and cultivating readers), the constantly growing collection of resources and materials, the fact that everyone is welcome, and literacy programs.

Benefits of preschool and summer reading programs

Our visits to libraries throughout the state show that these programs help develop strong reading skills in Pennsylvania’s children. The programs encourage children to enjoy reading and give them opportunities to spend lots of time with books—a first step toward developing strong reading skills. Children also benefit from the rich literacy experiences afforded by the many special events and organized programs the library offers. Finally, parents of children engaged in preschool and summer reading programs appear to be strongly invested in their children’s reading achievement. For thousands of children through Pennsylvania, preschool and summer reading programs offer a strong step in their climb toward reading achievement, and ultimately, success in school (40).

Summer reading programs increase reading achievement

As these findings suggest, summer reading clubs encourage children to read, and to read often. Research has shown that the amount of time children spend with books is crucial to reading achievement, and ultimately, to school achievement in general. Parents, children, and librarians report that the goals and structure of the summer reading program are very conducive to promoting reading (37).

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