Libraries as the Hub of School Improvement

I love school improvement! It sounds geeky and surreal, but it’s true. I practically get goose bumps talking about continuous improvement and high leverage instructional strategies. We have worked hard at our IU to offer comprehensive services to support our school districts and truly thought we had most of the territory covered. However, turns out we never considered the role of school libraries as a source of school improvement.brown bear

Summary of Research Concludes (Findings from 19 State and 1 Province including Pennsylvania):

“A substantial body of research since 1990 shows a positive relationship between school libraries and student achievement. The research studies show that school libraries can have a positive impact on student achievement—whether such achievement is measured in terms of reading scores, literacy, or learning more generally. A school library program that is adequately staffed, resourced, and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socio-economic or educational levels of the community” (Scholastic, 2008, p. 10)

Key Findings from the Pennsylvania Study:

  • Success requires adequate funding and staffing: one full-time certified library media specialist & one full-time support staff member.
  • “Pennsylvania Middle Schools with the best PSSA scores spend twice as much on their school libraries as the lowest scoring schools.”
  • Large collections of books, magazines, and newspapers is in and of itself is not adequate. Resources make a positive difference when they are part of school-wide initiatschool libraryives to integrate information literacy into the school’s approach to standards and curricula (Scholastic, 2008, p. 14).

Special thanks to Lynn Moses, School Library Development Advisor, Pennsylvania Department of Education, for sharing these resources and proving that school improvement is not always in the most obvious places. 


School library photo courtesy of soaleha’s photostream on Flickr.


Don said…
So much opportunity in libraries/media centers! We need to build that staff into SI/Getting Results teams! I'm wondering if the study (haven't read it) is merely reporting correlations (higher wealth/economic status correlated with both better-funded libraries and higher student achievement) or if it gets into some of the "how's" of effective 'librarying' that have been associated with higher performance? I'll be interested to hear from your other readers about how their librarians and libraries are involved in their SI efforts.
Congerjan said…
Teachers are so stressed. They never have enough time to get everything they need to teach into a school day. Enter the school librarian. I make it a point to ask teachers what they need me to cover in the library. I taught everything from poetry to simple machines in the library this year. Librarians do much more than read books to children at story time. The library is the center of the school. Librarians should be the go to person for everything from research to technology. Librarians not only choose the books in the library collection, they make sure those books follow the curriculum. They advocate for reading, and the research process. Librarians are vital, thanks for understanding that without libraries student achievement may be in jeopardy.
Anonymous said…
The previous two posters make excellent points. But let's not forget to include the librarian in decision making and on important factfinding and policy making committees. Librarians have a unique viewpoint on the learning of students, who often feel free to express their frustrations with curriculum and system issues that they might not feel free enough to mention in the classroom. This allows the librarian to bring to the table a much more diverse viewpoint on learning in the school.
Kelly said…
For folks interested in keeping this conversaton alive should check out Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog
and Joyce Valeza's NeverEndingSearch blog at the School Library Journal
Kelly said…
@Don ... yes the resources linked do have the conditions under which the libraries thrive. I agree about the School Improvement process... there's always Gen 7:)

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