Educational/Literacy Impact

Regular access to public libraries can make the difference between summer setback and success

Regular access to public libraries can make the difference between summer setback and summer success. Children who reported easy access to books read more books. Reading as few as four to five books over the summer can prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall.

Library summer reading programs impact student reading levels, ability, and enjoyment

Library summer reading programs have a major impact on student reading levels, ability, and enjoyment. An evaluation of summer reading programs in Los Angeles found that participating children spent more time looking at and reading books than before they joined the program. During the summer, the percent of children reading 10-14 hours a week increased by nine percentage points and the proportion of children reading 15 or more hours a week rose by 11 percentage points. Teachers contacted as part of the Los Angeles study found that the difference between students who participated in summer library programs and those who did not was readily apparent the following fall. The most dramatic difference was that participants were much more enthusiastic about reading: 55% had a high enthusiasm for reading compared to less than 40% of non-participants. Teachers also reported that participating students who were reading above grade level before the summer were more likely to maintain this reading level than peers who did not participate in the summer reading program.

Public library summer reading programs impact children living in poverty

Public library summer reading programs can have a profound impact, especially on children living in poverty. On the whole, these children have a greater summer learning loss than do children from affluent families, and any gains that they had over the summer were smaller than their peers whose families had higher incomes. Twice as many fourth graders (58% versus 27%) from disadvantaged families fell below the basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than did students from more affluent families, and far fewer tested at a proficient level (13% verses 40%)

Summer educational programs are needed to address the achievement gap

Differences in reading activities and family involvement in summer learning beginning in first grade account for the achievement gap that give children from high socio-economic status an advantage over children from low socio-economic backgrounds. The best way to address the achievement gap is to provide disadvantaged children with rich and engaging educational programs during the summer months.

Public libraries are ideal to serve students as an after-school activities venue

Public libraries are in an ideal position to serve students as an after-school activities and services venue. Of K-8 students who participated in weekly non-parental after-school care arrangements, 77% participated in homework, educational, reading, or writing activities. This number was stable across student characteristics—such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity—and family characteristics, such as family type, household income, and poverty status.

Circulation of young adult materials is strong

Circulation of young adult materials is strong, despite the fact that libraries only spend an average of 5.2 percent of their materials budget on young adult materials. In the fiscal year 2006, an average of 4.7 items per young adult circulated, with a materials cost of $2.97 per young adult.

Public libraries are the top source of books for homeschooled students

Public libraries are the top source of curriculum or books for homeschooled students. In 2003, approximately 1.1 million students, or 2.2% of the K–12 student population, were being homeschooled, with 78% of homeschooled students (ages 5–17, with grade equivalent of K–12) and their parents reporting they used the public library as a source of curriculum or books.

Nationwide, large children's circulation and programs attendance

Nationwide, circulation of children’s materials was 716.4 million, or 35 percent of total circulation, in FY 2005. Attendance at children’s programs was 54.6 million.

80% of Americans think that all children need access to a good, safe, and appealing library

Eighty percent of Americans think that all children need access to a good, safe, and appealing library. Of the top public priorities for public libraries, having enough current children’s books ranked second (82% of respondents) and providing reading hours and other programs for children ranked fifth (79% of respondents).

Households with children are regular users of the public library

Households with children under 18 are regular and prominent users of the public library. In 2001, 65.6% of households with children under 18 used public libraries. Nationwide, more households with children under 18 used a library in the past month for a school assignment (22%) than to participate in programs for children under 13 (10%) or for teenagers, ages 13 to 18 (3%). Among households with children under 18, a larger percentage of Black and Asian households (25% and 26% respectively) used a public library in the last month for a school assignment than did white or Hispanic households (22% and 20% respectively). Forty-one percent of households with children under 18 used a public library or bookmobile in the past month to borrow materials. This is compared to 28% of households with any members ages 18 to 64, and 19% of households with any members aged 65 or older.

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