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Strong Libraries, Strong Scores The Impact of School Libraries & Librarian...

Outline. BackgroundStates involved, Info Power contextResultsLibrary predictors of academic achievementControlling for school

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Strong Libraries, Strong Scores The Impact of School Libraries Librarians on Academic Achievement

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Strong Libraries, Strong ScoresThe Impact of School Libraries & Librarians on Academic Achievement

Keith Curry Lance

RSL Research Group

Louisville, Colorado

Keith Curry Lance – RSL Research Group – Louisville, Colorado

303-466-1860 – –

Outline l.jpg


  • Background

    • States involved, Info Power context

  • Results

    • Library predictors of academic achievement

    • Controlling for school & community conditions

  • Implications

    • Recommended actions

    • Other research questions

    • What you can do

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Previous Research

1950s-1980’s: largely experimental research

  • Librarian as teacher, co-teacher, tutor

  • Collections, technology, interlibrary cooperation

  • Library staff, budgets, teacher & principal support

    1992/3: 1st Colorado study: statistical analysis

  • School Match episode

  • “School Match Revisited” aftermath

  • The Big Question … and the answer

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Information PowerModel

Successor to earlier IP & Library Power


  • Collaboration

  • Leadership

  • Technology


  • Learning & Teaching

  • Information Access & Delivery

  • Program Administration

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Standards-Based Education

Standardized, norm-referenced tests

  • Reading tests

  • Library/study skills tests

  • Percentile rankings (grading “on the curve”)

    Standards-based tests

  • Content standards

  • Information literacy standards

  • Percent who meet or exceed standards

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  • Rapid growth in availability of computers, Internet access, World Wide Web capabilities in schools

  • Changing nature of teacher-librarian & technology specialist jobs

  • Common ground: “information literacy”

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Challenge to Recent Studies

Take into account

  • Info Power/Library Power movements

  • Standards-based education

  • Technology developments

    Get message out beyond “the choir”

  • Principals, teachers

  • Technology specialists

  • Parents, students

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Schools & Libraries Studied

  • Since 2000, 15 states

    • AK, CO, FL, IA, IL, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, NM, OR, PA, TX, WI … and Ontario

  • Over 10,000 schools

  • Elementary, middle and high school libraries serving an estimated 3 million students

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement

Library staffing

Professional staff (teacher-librarians)

  • Master’s/bachelor’s degrees

  • Teacher certification & experience

  • Library endorsement

    Support staff

  • Library aides, technology aides

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement

  • Staff Activities

    • Learning & Teaching

    • Information Access & Delivery

    • Program Administration

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement

Staff Activities

Learning & Teaching

  • Planning with classroom teachers

  • Teaching students with classroom teachers

  • Teaching information literacy skills to students (without classroom teachers)

  • Providing in-service training to classroom teachers

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement

Staff Activities

Information Access & Delivery

  • Developing collections

  • Identifying print & electronic resources for classroom teachers

  • Motivating students to read

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement

Staff Activities

Program Administration

  • Meeting regularly with principal

  • Attending faculty meetings

  • Serving on key committees

  • Meeting with other school librarians

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement

  • School library hours of operation

    • Before, during & after school

    • In summer

    • Flexible access/scheduling

  • School library usage

    • Group visits

    • Individual visits

    • Both for information literacy skills instruction

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Library Predictors of Academic Achievement


Numbers of computers

  • In library

  • Elsewhere in school

    Providing access to

    • Library catalogs

    • Licensed databases

    • State-specific packages of databases Internet/World Wide Web

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The Latest Results: sample Illinois findings

  • Test scores higher at schools with more:

    • Flexible scheduling (+10-11% elem.)

    • Library staffing (+17-18% elem., middle)

    • Librarian/teacher collaboration (+8% elem.)

    • Current collections (+13-14% middle)

    • Library & other connected computers/100 (+8-11% middle)

    • Library spending (+5% elem., +9% middle, +12% high)

    • Circ (+11%, elem.), group visits (+9-10%, middle)

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Controlling for Other School & CommunityConditions

  • School library development factor

    • Staffing, collections, expenditures

  • Other school conditions

    • Per pupil spending

    • Teacher-pupil ratio

  • Community conditions

    • Poverty (NSLP eligibility)

    • Minority enrollment

    • Adult educational attainment (age 25+ graduated from high school)

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Ranked by percent of test score variation explained:

Poverty (NSLP eligibility): 50-65%

School library development: up to 8%, typically 3%

Variables that don’t explain any test score variation consistently:

Adult educational attainment

Minority enrollment

Per pupil spending

Teacher-pupil ratio

Academic Achievement Predictors Ranked

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Scores higher where principals place more value on:

meeting with LMS (+17%),

appointing LMS to committees (+10%),

LMS & teachers planning & teaching collaboratively (+8%),

LMS providing in-service (+30%)

Third-grade scores higher at elementary schools where teachers report LMS more frequently:

initiates collaboration (+16%),

offers instructional resources (+14%),

classes visit on flexible schedule (+11%)

The Latest Results: sample Indiana findings

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Recommended Actions

  • Staff school libraries with professional & support staff

  • Stock them with current books & licensed databases as well as Internet computers

  • Fund them to support school’s curriculum and state’s standards

  • Adopt flexible scheduling

  • Utilize school computer network to extend library program’s reach into every classroom

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Other ResearchQuestions

  • How best can leadership and collaboration skills of teacher-librarians be developed?

  • What do teachers and administrators know—and need to learn—about the role of school libraries?

  • How can information literacy and technology dovetail to maximize library’s impact?

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What You Can Do

  • Collect and share meaningful numbers annually

  • Record and share success stories

  • Respond to appeals from researchers

  • Pursue “action research” projects locally

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For more information…

  • Visit the School Library Impact Studies page on the Library Research Service website at:

  • Contact Keith Curry Lance

    • Tel.: 303-466-1860

    • E-mail: