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Virtual Schools and the School Library Terence Cavanaugh Cathy Cavanaugh University of North Florida presentations/presentations.htm School Library Missions “To ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information” (AASL 1998, p. 6).

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Virtual Schools and the School Library

Terence Cavanaugh

Cathy Cavanaugh

University of North Florida

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School Library Missions

  • “To ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information” (AASL 1998, p. 6).

  • Accomplished through the two primary purposes:

    • supporting the curriculum

    • promoting reading for enjoyment.

  • Ensure that students are provided with opportunities that will engage them in reading, and create an environment where reading is valued and encouraged (AASL 1999).

    American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

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School Library Advantages

  • “Research findings from more than 4,000 schools indicate links between academic achievement and strong school libraries”

  • Other findings indicate that strong libraries correlate to higher standardized test scores

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Students – Millennial Generation

  • Majority use tools such as Google to research a topic

    (Kaminski, Seel, & Cullen 2003)

  • While using such search tools, the students recognize that they are wasting time in their research process and desire assistance

    (McEuen 2001)

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DL Success Factors

  • Effective practices based on experience and research. Resources--Processes--Results cycle (Cavanaugh, 2005).

  • Practices that support library services in virtual schools are:

    • Student services (Resources)

    • Qualified, experienced staff (Resources)

    • Appropriate learning materials (Resources)

    • Student access to learning resources (Resources)

    • Focus on content and students (Practices)

    • Development of information literacy (Practices)

    • Program accreditation (Results)

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Accrediting Agencies

U.S. DoE recognized regional accrediting bodies:

  • (MSAS) Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

  • (NCACSI) North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

  • (NEASC) New England Association of Schools and Colleges

  • (NAAS) Northwest Association of Accredited Schools

  • (SACS) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

  • (WASC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges

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Library Services







Accreditation Requirements

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Sample Accreditation Requirements Related to School Libraries

North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement

  • Library Staffing:

    • The school employs the equivalent of at least one professionally trained individual.

  • Library Collection:

    • An appropriate collection of books and periodicals is provided to support the instructional program. In addition to print materials, the collection should include filmstrips, computer programs, tape and disc recordings, and videotapes.

  • Library Practices:

    • The professional staff has developed a statement of policy for the selection of reference materials, instructional materials for the library, and textbooks.

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VS and Brick Accreditation Standards (sample)

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For this study, librarians, teachers, administrators from online schools were surveyed and interviewed to gather information about their student library services and teacher/library collaboration.

Information from accrediting agencies regarding virtual school library requirements.

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Online surveys



Primary language instructors


Accrediting agencies

Accredited schools


Study Methods

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Survey Topics

  • General/Demographic

  • Personnel

  • Access

  • Funding/budget

  • Accreditation

  • Students

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Survey Questions

  • The priority given to library services

  • How students access library resources (local school, public library, online, etc.)

  • Whether the school has a budget for library materials

  • Whether the school employs certified librarians

  • Demographics of the students served

  • School’s current accreditation status

  • The collaboration between distance learning teachers and school librarians.

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1 full time

1 part time

5 none

Library Services

3 library

3 online library

3 subscription library

8 no service

Initial Survey Results

From twelve online schools

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Library Priority

0 highest

2 high

2 moderate

2 low

2 no

Library Access

3 local school

5 public libraries

3 no expectations

Initial Survey Results (cont.)

From eight responses

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VS provides for:

Reading Enjoyment

3 yes

5 no


3 yes

5 no

Students expected to use a library

5 yes

3 no

Initial Survey Results (cont.)

From eight responses

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Initial Survey Results (cont.)

Teacher interviews

Teachers working with part-time online students had:

  • no collaboration with regional librarians/libraries

  • not even considered contacting regional school libraries

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Online Library – Subscribe

  • Subscription library fees based on usage

  • 24/7 access to the collection

  • School purchases a collection of titles or pays a service fee

  • Only one student at a time may access each purchased copy

  • Set the checkout time allotment

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Online Library – Vendors

Library subscription vendors:

  • netLibrary (

  • ebrary (

  • Questia (

  • OverDrive – Digital Library Reserve(

    Students with special needs (free):


  • Accessible Book Collection(

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Online Library - Create

  • Personnel

  • Server

    • Adobe’s Content Server (timed checkout)

  • Collection

    • Construct

    • Purchase

      • Blackmask

      • Gutenberg

      • Baen

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Dedicated to students

Age/stage appropriate collection

Curriculum related

Staffed with K12 trained personnel


Access issues

Ex. Florida’s Jessica Lunsford Act

Lack of coordination between teachers & library

Collection may not reflect VS curriculum

School Library

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Free and public

Expanded time access

Wide range of materials (preK-adult+)

Reading enjoyment focus


Not dedicated to student applications

Lacking curriculum support

Lacking research focus

Public Library

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  • Presentation

  • Survey


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  • AASL (American Association of School Librarians). (1999). Position Statement on the Value of Independent Reading the School Library media Program. Adopted June 1994, revised July 1999. Retrieved October 2006 from

  • AASL (American Association of School Librarians). (1998). Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. Chicago: American Library Association.

  • ALA (American Library Association). (2003). Information Literacy and Accreditation Agencies.

  • Cavanaugh, C. (2005). Distance Education Success Factors. Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology. Khosrow-Pour, M. Ed. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference.

  • Kaminski, K., Seel, P., and Cullen, K. (2003). Technology Literate Students? Results from a Survey EDUCAUSE Quarterly, V26, N3, pp 34-40. Retrieved October 2006 from .

  • Libraries called key. (2004, February/March). Reading Today, 21(4), 1, 4. Retrieved October 2006 from

  • McEuen, S. F. (2001). How Fluent with Information Technology are our Students? EDUCAUSE Quarterly, V24 N4 p8-17. Retrieved September 2006 from

  • USDOE. (2006). Recognized Accrediting Associations.

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