Educational/Literacy Impact

Students gain important critical thinking and career-building skills at the public library

Students gain important critical thinking and career-building skills at the public library. A survey of more than 430 human resource officials, conducted in 2006 by the New York City-based Conference Board, found that 72% rated recent hires as deficient in basic English writing skills, such as grammar and spelling, and 81% rated them as deficient in written communications more broadly, such as memos, letters, and complex technical reports. In a 2005 survey conducted for the National Association of Manufacturers, 84% of respondents said schools were not doing a good job preparing students for the workplace, with more than half citing specific deficiencies in mathematics and science and 3% citing deficiencies in reading and comprehension. The lack of applied or “soft” skills—everyday social skills, work ethic, verbal and nonverbal communications, attendance, interview abilities, time and workload management, working productively with others, and attitude—dominated the complaints of business leaders. People who score higher on “measures of complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and fluency with ideas have higher mean earnings in the labor market, across all levels of education.”

Participation in library programs for kids has been rising steadily

Participation in library programs for kids under 18 has been rising steadily in recent years, from almost 35.6 million/year in 1993, to 54.6 million/year in 2005, to 60.9 million/year in 2008 (the last year for which these statistics are available).

Library staff in the top middle schools spend more time on collaboration

Library media staff in the top performing middle schools spent 25.4 percent more time providing staff development to teachers or other staff than the 25 lowest scoring schools (1.48 vs. 1.18 hours per week). Library staff in the top high schools spent more time on … collaboration … activities than library staff in the bottom schools. They are particularly more active in providing staff development to teachers and staff (1.31 vs. 0.35 hours per week). 

Library media specialists provide in-service opportunities at high performing schools

Four out of five responding library media specialists reported the occurrence of various activities on at least a weekly or monthly basis. These included: teachers asking the library media specialist for instructional design resources (78%). Three out of five reported … teachers asking for help in learning new information-seeking skills (57%). About half of library media specialists reported that, on a weekly or monthly basis, they provide in-service learning opportunities to teachers (48%). Across grade levels, better-performing schools tended to be those whose principals placed a higher value on having their library media specialist provide in-service opportunities to classroom teachers (65.57% passing for essential or desirable vs. 50.63% passing for acceptable or unnecessary—a proportional increase of 29.5%).

Students with better staffed libraries score higher on the ACT

Students in better staffed programs [i.e., those with more library media specialists and more LMS hours] scored 8.4 to 21.8 percent higher on ACT English tests and 11.7 to 16.7 percent higher on ACT Reading tests compared to students in schools where library media programs had fewer resources.

Reading scores are higher where librarian-teacher collaboration is considered essential

At the middle school level, the percentage of students with advanced reading scores was 12.6% higher for schools with administrators who considered librarian-teacher collaboration (in design and delivery of instruction) essential (vs. less than essential).

Schools with above average reading scores frequently have full-time media specialists

In Minnesota schools with above average student scores on the Grade 3, 5, and 8 reading tests, 66.8% were schools where the media specialist worked full-time. Twice as many schools with above average scores had full-time media specialists. Student reading achievement in elementary and secondary schools is related to increases in school library media program spending.

Library media specialists have an important role to play with technology

Library media specialists have an important role to play regarding the use of technology to support teaching and learning in their schools. Seventy-four percent of respondents provide guidance to students in the use of digital resources at least once a week.

School libraries boost students' confidence as information seekers

Ninety percent of the students recognized that the school library had helped to boost their confidence as proficient information seekers and users, enabling them to work independently; 91.8% of the students appreciated the school library’s help regarding working out the most important information, and sorting and analyzing information.

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