Educational/Literacy Impact

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.

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%).

The expertise of the library staff has value.

Staff include knowledgeable reference librarians and other staff, class instructors, volunteers, and people committed to maintaining the library.

The technology for use in the library has value.

This includes computers and Internet access, specialized equipment for the disabled, online content, specialized databases, which possibly constitutes the only means of access for lower income families and individuals.

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.

The collection of materials in the library has value.

Minnesota's public libraries are like libraries in other states in that they are valued for providing free access to educational and entertainment materials, are an open and welcoming gathering place, and for providing resources to those who would otherwise be unable to afford them. A typical list of what comprises Minnesota library collections and downloads can include books and periodicals, professional journals, travel materials, audio books, DVDs, videos, music, and business resources.

Social Return on Investment in Public Libraries

The social return on investment from Minnesota public libraries is greater than simply the measureable return on investment. Other benefits of significant value include the collection of materials itself, and the many services of the library; the educational programs, as well as the educational benefits of the library's mission including literacy of the citizenry; technology for use in the library; the expertise of the library staff; the library facility as a community gathering place; the "halo" spending by library users at establishments close to the library; and the value of a library's enhancement to neighborhood real estate and community partnerships.

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