AASL releases results of 2009 School Libraries Count survey

Contact: Melissa Jacobsen

AASL Communications Specialist

(312) 280-4381



For Immediate Release

January 5, 2010

Survey reveals increases in hours and collections, but decrease in budget

CHICAGO – As school library media centers increased their hours and collections, many school budgets failed to increase funding to support these trends, according to an updated report from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

The School Libraries Count! National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Media Programs launched in January 2009, while many schools faced uncertainty due to the United States' tough economic climate. Results from 5,824 respondents consisted of both public and private schools varying in enrollment size, location and school level. According to results, many schools decreased expenditures, including reducing spending for information resources, compared to the previous year results.

"The results of this survey will not only help AASL monitor the status of our nation’s school library media programs, but enable us as an organization to identify key areas where we can provide support to those programs," stated AASL President Cassandra Barnett. Results are available for download on AASL's Web site at

Collections in school library media centers rose in every category, with 29 percent accounted for in periodical subscriptions. However, an investment in technology rose only 7 percent, compared to a 20 increase increase in 2008. In contrast to the previous year, this year's respondents reported that schools’ investment in networked computers with library access has slowed in the last year. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of computers located elsewhere in the school with access to the library rose 31.8 points, compared to a mere 10.1 points between 2008 and 2009.

Results from the questions on staffing and hours indicate that on average school library media centers increased their hours of operation by more than 1.5 hours. While staff indicated taking on more hours, schools with combined levels were the only subgroup with an increase in staffing. Respondents in metropolitan high schools with a student population of 2,000 or more indicated increases in unscheduled, flexible time compared to last year.

"Individual schools and districts can use the data to make comparisons to other school library programs in order to advocate for improvements," said Barnett. "By conducting a longitudinal survey AASL is able to track changes and trends in school libraries at both the national and state level. After three years of reporting we are seeing interesting results related to collection development, technology implementation and library expenditures. "

The School Libraries Count! National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Media Programs aims to gather data on changes in the field to gain understanding of the state of school library media programs nationally. While national estimates are developed on the basis of survey responses from a stratified random sample of public schools, all K-12 schools, public and private, were invited to participate on a voluntary basis. Private schools were included in the survey with the endorsement and support of AASL's Independent Schools Section (ISS). Data on this and previous School Libraries Count! longitudinal studies can be found at

The American Association of School Librarians,
www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.