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Digital Natives, 21st Century School Libraries, and 21st Century Preparation Programs: An Informal Affirmation of Branch and deGroot

The presentations from the 2011 IASL conference theme School Libraries: Empowering the 21st Century Learner offered much to think about for graduate programs preparing future teacher librarians. Research indicates that school librarians are not actively integrating Web 2.0 tools into their programs, but students are regularly using these tools outside of school for accessing and sharing information. Professional preparation programs must help future librarians master these tools so they can be school leaders on the Web 2.0 technology frontier. This paper discusses issues related to Web 2.0 integration in online graduate programs in school librarianship and offers examples of Web 2.0 activities that can be used in graduate courses.

Librarian Required

The article discusses research by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) with the education advocacy group Education Law Center (ELC) about the impact of school librarians on academic achievement, according to their report "Pennsylvania School Libraries Pay Off: Investments in Student Achievement and Academic Standards." Topics includes research about school library programs, their impact on minority students, as well as the impact of library programs on reading test scores.

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.

Libraries support the literacy of the homeless

The free-flowing nature of the library also allowed for parents to actively participate in their children’s reading. Noting the lack of literacy programs available for children at the shelter and in the community, one mother talked about the public library as being the place she could take her children to support their literacy development... Library attendance served as a springboard for parents to communicate messages about the expectations that they had for their children as readers. As institutions, libraries supported literacy events that tie to the larger cultural practices of coming together as part of a community. (p. 232).

Library programs help prepare children and schools for kindergarten transition

The Oceano Branch of the San Luis Obispo (SLO) City-County Public Library system is the first (SLO) branch library to implement the Raising a Reader Program. The newly opened branch, which is situated on a site next to the Oceano Elementary School and an adult learning center, is well positioned to provide services to both parents and their children. The program, which is partially supported by First 5 of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, targets children and their families living in the predominantly Hispanic community surrounding Oceano Elementary School. The project is part of a broad initiative to provide educational support to parents, provide preschool and childcare, operate kindergarten transition programs, coordinate existing health and social services, and encourage schools to be ready for children, and vice versa. A preliminary review of the program results conducted by First 5 of San Luis Obispo indicate that the program is having a significant impact on the way parents approach learning in the household. Parents surveyed after three months of program participation reported statistically significant changes in the amount they read to their children (from 59% at baseline to 85%), their perceived importance of such reading (from 8.9% at baseline to 9.8%), and their increased use of the library system (from 38% at baseline to 69%) (First 5 SLO 2005) (p. 11).

Value of Young Adult Public Library Programs

Young Adult Programs - According to Bibliostat, total attendees in these programs in Minnesota in 2010 was 75,633. Multiplied by the resulting per attendee value ($4.32), we get the total value of the young adult programs which is $326,735.

Value of Children's Public Library Programs

Children’s Programs - According to Bibliostat, total attendees in these programs in Minnesota in 2010 was 878,248. Multiplied by the resulting per attendee value ($4.32), we get the total value of the children’s programs which is $3,794,031.

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).

Library reading programs encourage reading achievement

Observations at various libraries and interviews with parents, children, and library staff reveal that preschool and summer reading programs encourage children to spend significant amounts of time with books, a first step toward reading achievement. Observations  and interviews also show that library programs encourage parents to play greater roles in the children’s literacy development­­—another factor leading to reading achievement (4).

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