The free-flowing nature of the library also allowed for parents to actively participate in their children’s reading. Noting the lack of literacy programs available for children at the shelter and in the community, one mother talked about the public library as being the place she could take her children to support their literacy development... Library attendance served as a springboard for parents to communicate messages about the expectations that they had for their children as readers. As institutions, libraries supported literacy events that tie to the larger cultural practices of coming together as part of a community. (p. 232).
The Oceano Branch of the San Luis Obispo (SLO) City-County Public Library system is the first (SLO) branch library to implement the Raising a Reader Program. The newly opened branch, which is situated on a site next to the Oceano Elementary School and an adult learning center, is well positioned to provide services to both parents and their children. The program, which is partially supported by First 5 of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, targets children and their families living in the predominantly Hispanic community surrounding Oceano Elementary School. The project is part of a broad initiative to provide educational support to parents, provide preschool and childcare, operate kindergarten transition programs, coordinate existing health and social services, and encourage schools to be ready for children, and vice versa. A preliminary review of the program results conducted by First 5 of San Luis Obispo indicate that the program is having a significant impact on the way parents approach learning in the household. Parents surveyed after three months of program participation reported statistically significant changes in the amount they read to their children (from 59% at baseline to 85%), their perceived importance of such reading (from 8.9% at baseline to 9.8%), and their increased use of the library system (from 38% at baseline to 69%) (First 5 SLO 2005) (p. 11).
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.
Students at schools with better funded LMCs [Library Media Centers] tend to achieve higher average test scores, whether their schools and communities are rich or poor and whether adults in the community are well or poorly educated.
Strong correlations between test scores and the instructional roles regularly provided by library media specialists at the high school level also offer some indicators for certified staff and their administrative supervisors about how to allocate library work time. Providing reference assistance, instructing students in research strategies, use of resources and information literacy; and communicating proactively with the principal were among those activities that were most strongly related to student achievement.
…[R]esults of this study indicate that as the overall percentage of library media specialists at a grade level increases, so does the strength of the association between school library program elements and student achievement.
At the high school level, the library factor accounted for 19% of the variance in English Language Arts CST scores and 21% of the variance in U.S. History CST scores. In both cases, Beta weights indicated that the library factor was a stronger predictor of scores than other school variable; in fact, the library factor was stronger than either school or community factors in predicting U.S. History CST scores.
At the elementary level, all other library program elements—hours open, collection size, budget, and total technology—were significantly, though weakly, related to English Language Arts CST scores in all bivariate and partial correlations.
At the high school level… [t]he relationship between English Language Arts CST scores and library services was very similar in strength to that of U.S. History CST scores… The strongest bivariate correlations included total services… providing teachers with information about new resources and informally instructed students in the use of resources…
At the fourth grade level, there were significant positive correlations between English Language Arts CST [California Standards Test] scores and fourteen library staff services. The two strongest associations were with informal instructing students in the use of resources and communication proactively with principal... At the eighth grade level, there were also fourteen services that were significantly related to English Language Arts CST scores, with the three strongest being communicating proactively with principal, offering a program of curriculum-integrated information literacy instruction, and total services…