Educational Role of the Library

Value of academic reference service

Using CV, this study shows that the average student on the academic campus of VCU values reference desk services at approximately $5.59 per semester. The average member of the instructional faculty values this service at $45.76 per year. No attempt was made to estimate the value that university staff and the general public place on reference desk service. Given reasonable assumptions about the cost of service, students and faculty place a value on the current hours of reference desk service that exceeds the cost by a ratio of 3.5 to 1 (pp. 67-68).

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.

Benefits of preschool and summer reading programs

Our visits to libraries throughout the state show that these programs help develop strong reading skills in Pennsylvania’s children. The programs encourage children to enjoy reading and give them opportunities to spend lots of time with books—a first step toward developing strong reading skills. Children also benefit from the rich literacy experiences afforded by the many special events and organized programs the library offers. Finally, parents of children engaged in preschool and summer reading programs appear to be strongly invested in their children’s reading achievement. For thousands of children through Pennsylvania, preschool and summer reading programs offer a strong step in their climb toward reading achievement, and ultimately, success in school (40).

Summer reading programs increase reading achievement

As these findings suggest, summer reading clubs encourage children to read, and to read often. Research has shown that the amount of time children spend with books is crucial to reading achievement, and ultimately, to school achievement in general. Parents, children, and librarians report that the goals and structure of the summer reading program are very conducive to promoting reading (37).

Library Media Program Activities Associated with Higher Reading Scores

In Alaska, the percentage of students scoring proficient or above on reading tests was higher for schools with more hours per typical week of professional librarian staffing; more staff time spent weekly delivering information literacy instruction to students, planning cooperatively with teachers, and providing in-service training to teachers; collection development policies that address the issue of reconsideration requests or challenges to library materials; computers with modem capability (to access the Internet); and a relationship—formal or informal—with the public library. In addition to these direct predictors of test scores, the Alaska study identified one series of relationships worthy of note: Schools with more librarian staffing spend more time teaching information literacy, resulting in more student visits to library media centers and, in turn, higher reading scores.In Pennsylvania, higher average reading scores for schools were associated with the presence of school librarians with more hours per week of support staff; higher expenditures on the library media program; larger collections of information resources (e.g., books, periodical subscriptions, Access Pennsylvania and other databases); more computers, both in the library media center and throughout the school, that provide access to information resources (e.g., licensed databases, the Internet); and spending more library media staff time integrating the teaching of information literacy into the school's curriculum and approach to addressing academic standards (8-9).

Library Media Program Development Correlates with Academic Achievement

In all four states, the level of development of the LM [library media] program was a predictor of student performance. In all four states, data on staffing levels correlated with test scores. In Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Oregon, additional data on collections and expenditures were predictive of reading scores. Where LM programs are better staffed, better stocked, and better funded, academic achievement tends to be higher (7).

Library Media Program Development Correlates with Academic Achievement

In all four states, the level of development of the LM [library media] program was a predictor of student performance. In all four states, data on staffing levels correlated with test scores. In Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Oregon, additional data on collections and expenditures were predictive of reading scores. Where LM programs are better staffed, better stocked, and better funded, academic achievement tends to be higher.

Librarian’s expertise in selecting and using materials is unique

The librarian’s expertise in selecting and using materials is unique. The librarian is not an early childhood educator, but—by training and experience—the librarian is equipped to nurture the young child’s curiosity through his interest in stories and books. Moreover, the goals of the profession give librarians a vested interest in the child’s development of language and reading skills.

Public library programs offer wonderful opportunities for promoting school-readiness skills in children

Public library programs offer wonderful opportunities for promoting school-readiness skills in children and creating positive associations with books while showing parents how important these skills are and how to reinforce them at home.

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