Building Strong and Vibrant Community

Values-Oriented Factors Leading to Retention of School Librarian Positions: A School District Case Study

The number of U.S. school librarians has greatly diminished despite advocacy efforts on the local and national level. This case study investigated the factors that led governing board members in a mid-size urban high school district to retain certified school librarian positions despite a major economic crisis. Data were collected through school district documents and interviews with the district superintendent, a governing board member, the director of finance, a school administrator, and a librarian. Using an organizational decision-making framework, the researcher constructed the following values-oriented themes contributing to the retention of librarians: employee involvement, transparency in communication, trust between district leadership and the governing board, a commitment to the district's core values, and the value placed on the school library program by the district's stakeholders. Findings indicated that practitioners can advocate on the basis of organizational factors that contribute to school librarian retention. Future research should investigate additional school districts' decision-making processes in the retention of school librarian positions. All locations and names used in this study are pseudonyms.

A Case Study of a Rural Iowa School Preparing to Meet New State Guidelines for School Libraries

A qualitative case study highlighting one rural Iowa elementary school provided insight into the issue of small schools without library programs as they are preparing to meet the Iowa reinstatement of the requirement for school library programs. The site was purposefully chosen because it has been operating without a school library program or professional teacher-librarian district-wide. All eight teachers and the nonendorsed library associate from one elementary school participated in either a focus group or semistructured interviews. The four district administrators were interviewed individually. Related documents were consulted. This study examined the status of the school library program, analyzed the stakeholder's perceptions and expectations for the school library program and instructional role, and identified supports and obstacles to implementing the new state teacher-librarian and school library program and requirements. Three themes emerged from the data, exemplifying the expectations surrounding this school's library program: (a) a minimal role for school library programs in the vision and reality of participants, (b) the invisibility of the professional qualifications and instructional and collaborative qualities of the teacher-librarian needed to increase program sustainability, and (c) a disconnect between the school library program and literacy, technology, and other curricular area school improvement initiatives. The results showed this school's library program denied students access to libraries and learning opportunities essential for a democratic education. The data from this case study support these conclusions by showing an inability of the local school district to create or sustain a high quality school library program without a state mandate and the inability of the current state mandate to instill a high quality school library program in this district.

Elementary Malay Vernacular Schools and School Libraries in Singapore Under British Colonial Rule, 1819-1941

Earlier research on school libraries in Singapore has stated that school libraries were established there recently. Lim (1970) wrote that school libraries in Singapore were largely a post-war innovation, and Ho (1998) wrote that published records related to the history of school libraries in Singapore were available only from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. This article presents historical information that shows that an official policy on school libraries was initiated in 1899. It also presents the historical record of the development of schools and school libraries under British colonial rule and related information about the Malay school book production.  

Libraries have value to neighborhoods

People prefer to live near a public library if they have a choice, and often perceive library access as part of an enhanced quality of life, although it is rarely a direct factor in home purchase decision making.

Public libraries support personal productivity and cultural engagement

Directly related to the issue of citizens and their personal productivity is the survey finding that for almost half of patrons, the prime reason for visiting the central library was to look for information on a subject. Interviews with patrons revealed an extremely wide array of reasons as to why information was being sought. While some reasons had to do with paid employment (looking up information directly related to their work), in many cases the information sought related to other areas of life involving serious projects and pursuits that could not be characterized as merely recreational, including projects having to do with theater set design, a photographic exhibition, research for a film, small business development, and writing a screenplay, to name a few. These examples emphasize that the construction of public culture is a complex, ongoing process in which individuals are engaged in often surprising ways. Thus, the research suggests that the search for relevant information and its subsequent use in productive activity may be an integral characteristic of the construction of contemporary public culture in the emergent twenty-first century. If this is true, the central library is then a key site of both cultural consumption and production and a facilitator of civil society in a way that other public places are not (p. 354).

All education groups feel public libraries are important in every community

There appears to be no statistically significant difference between these education groups in their feeling of the importance of having a public library in every community. All groups feel this is important.

Majority feel having a library in every community is important

Ninety-five percent of users and 83% of non-users feel having a library in every community is either somewhat or very importantOverall 80% of non-users and 93% of users felt that public library support should remain the same or be increased.

Building Community Character with the Seattle Central Library

The foot traffic and cultural vitality the Library brings enhances the desirability of Downtown as a residential and commercial market. It serves as a new icon for Seattle and attracts tourists, knowledge workers, and high technology industries to the City. The Library knits together the residential neighborhoods of Belltown and First Hill and retail concentrations in the Downtown shopping district and Pioneer Square. The Library could be an important contributor in repositioning Downtown as a cultural arts district.

Maryland Public Libraries as a desirable community asset

Happily, 42 percent gave public libraries an "A", ranking us at the top of local public services that included police and public safety, parks and recreation, public schools, social service, roads and mass transit, and local government efficiency. Marylanders told us that, next to public green space (parks), they ranked public libraries as the most desired community asset.

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