School Libraries

State of America's Libraries 2019

There are 90,400 public and private schools for grades kindergarten through high school in the United States. Of those, 82,300 (91%) have school libraries and only 56,000 (61%) have full-time librarians. However, schools with a strong school library program and a certified school librarian ensure their students have the best chance to succeed. More than 60 education and library research studies have produced clear evidence that school library programs staffed by qualified school librarians have a positive impact on student academic achievement. These studies clearly demonstrate that strong school library programs help all students do better academically, even when other school variables are considered:

  • School libraries offer a safe and nurturing climate during the day, as well as before and after school. They are often the only place open to all students, where a school librarian can support them across grade levels and subject matter.
  • School librarians connect other educators to current trends and resources for teaching and learning. They are essential partners for all teachers, providing print and digital materials that meet diverse needs and offering opportunities to deepen student learning.
  • School library programs foster critical thinking, providing students with the skills they need to analyze, form, and communicate ideas in compelling ways.
  • School libraries are learning hubs and homework help centers where students can use technology to find the best information resources. Strong school library programs instill confidence in reading, which is fundamental to learning, personal growth, and enjoyment.

Did you know?

Students in high-poverty schools are almost twice as likely to graduate when the school library is staffed with a certified school librarian.

Cutbacks in school librarians may be yielding unintended consequences. According to a recent study by Stanford University, more than 80% of middle schoolers cannot tell the difference between sponsored content and a real news article.

School libraries give students a unique opportunity for self-directed inquiry. Four out of five Americans agree that libraries help spark creativity among young people.

Lower-income students are especially at risk of falling behind in math and reading when school is out. Public libraries help narrow the achievement gap by offering summer learning opportunities to students of all backgrounds.


State of America's Libraries 2019