Nation celebrates School Library Media Month

Macey Morales / Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations

312-280-4393 / 5043 /


For Immediate Release

April 7, 2009

School libraries dire in age of Google, Twitter

CHICAGO - Libraries are at the heart of the learning experience for almost 44 million elementary, middle and high school students. During the entire month of April, parents, students and library media specialists will celebrate the value of our nation’s school library media centers with School Library Media Month. Â Â

Once stocked mainly with books and other print materials, today's school libraries have been transformed into learning centers with a full range of multimedia and emerging digital  information resources.  From virtual homework help to wireless environments, school library media centers are dynamic places.

According to the 2009 State of America’s Libraries Report, released annually by the American Library Association (ALA), individual visits to school library media centers increased significantly in 2008, up more than 22% compared with data gathered in 2007.

“Finding information today is a is more complex than it may seem nin the Internet age,” said American Library Association (ALA) President Jim Rettig. “Students must have 21st century skills in order to succeed in our society, and school library media specialists are crucial to the teaching and learning process.”

Students must also obtain information literacy skills that will enable them to thrive in the age of Google and Twitter.

On an everyday basis, school library media specialists guide students through an abundance of digital information resources. Â In New York, at PS 225 Eileen E. Zaglin School, School Library Media Specialists Stephanie Rosalia, can be found teaching students how to safely and effectively surf the Internet and how to efficiently use search engines like Google and Yahoo. Through a series of fake Web sites brimming with inaccurate information, Rosalia teaches students critical thinking skills and cautions students not to take Web information on face value. Â

Good school library media programs are essential to a good education. More than 60 education and library studies have produced clear evidence that school library media programs staffed by qualified library media specialists have a positive impact on student academic achievement. However, many library budgets are experiencing reductions. Â

“Collections are often out of date with little available funding for replacement,” said American Association of School Librarians (AASL) President Ann M. Martin. “School library media specialists across the country report that library funding for staff and materials is being dramatically cut back in financially troubled areas of the United States.”

Funding for schools comes primarily from local property taxes, with some funding from state and federal governments. 2002 saw the first direct funding for school library materials in almost thirty years (Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Grants, U.S. Department of Education). On average, schools annually spend about $15.00 per student, less than the cost of one hardcover book, on print and non-print library resources.

Elementary school library media programs have all but disappeared in some school districts. Although rooms and shelves of books still remain, there is no professional staff to assist teachers and students with learning. In some districts, library media specialists are stretched among two, three or more schools. “Diminishing district library media programs and staffing at a time when students need increasing support with information literacy and instruction, will prevent our children from acquiring the crucial skills needed to learn and thrive in the 21st century,” stated Martin.

First celebrated in 1985, School Library Media Month provides a month-long opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions of our nation’s school library media specialists and school library media centers.

For additional information on School Library Media Month please visit the AASL Web site at