Social Impact

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.

Valuing the impact of the teacher librarian from an evidence base

Evidence-based practice as it applies to the Library and Information (LIS) sector and in particular teacher librarians is the focus of this research investigation. The context for this research is Australian school libraries and teacher librarians. This is a research in progress and the report here will include some very early findings and lessons learned from the initial pilot study. The contributions of this research will be in developing a framework for the library and information sector with a particular application for teacher librarians. Providing meaningful evidence of work practices that demonstrate contributions to the schools goals and mission statements in conjunction with contributions to student academic, social and cultural achievements are crucial for the future of the teacher librarian.

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.  

Research consistent: students perform better with an endorsed librarian

The research on school librarians and their association with students’ test scores is remarkably consistent in its findings: regardless of how rich or poor a community is, students tend to perform better on reading tests where, and when, their library programs are in the hands of endorsed librarians. Furthermore, at schools where library programs gain or maintain an endorsed librarian when school budgets get tight, students tend to excel. At schools where library programs lose or never had an endorsed librarian, students suffer as a result.

Association of librarians with higher reading scores cannot be explained away by economic conditions

As in earlier state-level school library impact studies and the SLJ national study, the association of endorsed librarians with higher reading scores cannot be explained away by local economic conditions.

Librarians positively correlate with reading scores with poverty as control variable

In this instance, both endorsed and non-endorsed librarians were positively correlated with advanced CSAP reading scores and negatively correlated with unsatisfactory scores. In other words, with poverty utilized as a control variable, both endorsed and non-endorsed librarians had positive and statistically significant correlations with reading scores. Notably, however, these relationships are stronger for endorsed librarians than non-endorsed ones. What did not change was the lack of relationship between non-endorsed library assistants working without a librarian and reading scores. Apparently, library assistants working without supervision do not have any impact on reading scores, either advanced or unsatisfactory.

Library partnerships have value

Because community engagement has value, involvement of library volunteers from the communities includes benefits for volunteers in terms of enhancing their confidence, skills and levels of employability.

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.

The library facility as a gathering place has value

This includes the phenomenon known as the "living room" experience, meeting and conference rooms available, all-inclusive, safe and friendly environment, and a unique forum for social networking, book clubs and reading groups.

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