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The Value of School Libraries

Here’s part two of my series of posts and links on the value of libraries. This one is about the value of School Libraries and includes my list of links. As always, if you find a bad link, then just tell me and I’ll fix it. If you know of another study, just add it in the comments.

In the school library field, there are numerous studies and seemingly increasing stupidity in just ignoring them. I heard the word ‘anegnosis’ once. It’s similar to ‘amnesia’ although instead of forgetting knowledge and experience, it means to willfully ignore or be unaware of facts and knowledge. Dr. Ken Haycock’s summary, The Crisis in Canada’s School Libraries: The Case for Reform and Reinvestment, of the major studies on the impact of school libraries, published in 2003 by the Canadian Coalition for School Libraries, clearly shows that students, who attend schools with well-funded, properly-stocked libraries managed by qualified teacher-librarians, have higher achievement, improved literacy and greater success at the post-secondary level. Duh! So why are we having a crisis in school libraries, where they’re threatened routinely? Standardized scores tend to be 10 to 20% higher than in schools without an investment in a school library program and the “relationship between library resource levels and increased achievement is not explained away by other school variables (e.g., per student spending, teacher-pupil ratios) or community conditions (e.g., poverty, demographics). In fact, no fewer than forty years of research provides an abundance of evidence about the positive impact of qualified teacher-librarians and school libraries on children and adolescents.”

There are a number of leaders in this field of research including Ross Todd, Keith Curry Lance, Ken Haycock, David Loertscher, Stephen Krashen, Ann Curry, and others. All are great soldiers in this battle so reading their sites, reports and blogs is helpful.

Value of School Libraries Studies

The Crisis in Canada’s School Libraries: The Case for Reform and Reinvestment

Recent reports that were not included in the above report include:

School Libraries and Student achievement in Ontario [PDF]
The Ontario Library Association, April 2006

School Libraries Work! [PDF]
Scholastic Research Foundation Paper, 2008 Edition

Idaho School Library Impact Study – 2009

The 2006 report on the impact of Delaware school libraries is available from the Delaware Division of Libraries:

Statistical Studies of School and Other Libraries (excellent webliography)


Matthews, Jay.  “What’s a library without books? Go to some schools, and that’s what you will find.”, Washington Post, August 17,  2018, Retrieved from

Weldon, Lorette.  “ Where are the School Librarians “, Education Week, July 17, 2018, Retrieved from

Weldon, Lorette S.J. “Let Media Specialists do their Job” , Education Week, Ocotber 23 , 2018, Retrieved from

Weldon, Lorette S.J.  Information Technology Managed by the Library Media Specialist: A Pictorial Case Study.  Retrieved from

Hartzell, G. (2002a). The principal’s perceptions of school libraries and teacher-librarians.School Libraries Worldwide, 8(1), 92-110.

Hartzell, G. (2002b). White House conference on school libraries: What’s it take?Retrieved April 2, 2005, from

Hartzell, G. (2002c). Why should principals support school libraries? ERIC Digest.Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED470034).

Henri, J., & Hay, L. (1995). Teacher-librarians must be principally minded.  School libraries in Canada, 15(4), 20-21.

Kolencik, P. L. (2001). Principals and teacher-librarians: Building collaborative partnerships in the learning community. Dissertation Abstracts International 62 (05A), 1784. (UMI No. 3013296)

Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2000). How school librarians help kids achieve standards: The second Colorado study. San Jose, CA: HiWillow.

Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2001). Good schools have school librarians: Oregon school librarians collaborate to improve academic achievement.Terrebonne, OR: Oregon Educational Media Association.

Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2002). How school libraries improve outcomes for children: The New Mexico study. Salt Lake City:  HiWillow.

Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2005). Powerful libraries make powerful learners: The Illinois study. Canton, IL: Illinois School Library Media Association.

McCracken, A. (2000). Perceptions of school library media specialists regarding their roles and practices. Dissertation Abstracts International 61(04A), 1369. (UMI No. 9968476)

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2001). NBPTS library media standards. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from

National Policy Board for Educational Administration. (2002). Standards for advanced programs in educational leadership. Retrieved October 24, 2006, from

Naylor, A. P., & Jenkins, K. D. (1988). An investigation of principals’ perceptions of library media specialists’ performance evaluation technology. School Library Media Quarterly, 16(3), 234-243.

Oberg, D. (1996). Principal support—what does it mean to teacher-librarians? Worcester, England: Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED400851)

Wilson, P. J., & Blake, M. (1993). The missing piece: A school library media center component in principal-preparation programs. Record in Educational Leadership,12(2), 65-68.

Wilson, P. P., & MacNeil, A. J. (1998). In the dark: What’s keeping principals from understanding libraries?  School Library Journal, 44(9), 114-116.

School libraries seem over challenged lately and that’s not fair. It verges on insanity. It also risks future generations. I hope these studies help to arm ourselves for the battle. Advocate for your libraries, our libraries.


Posted on: April 6, 2010, 12:09 pm Category: Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. The 2006 report on the impact of Delaware school libraries is available at this recent blog post from the Delaware Division of Libraries:

  2. Thanks. I added the Delaware study.

  3. Janet HasBrouck said

    Here’s a CA study – Douglas L. Achterman’s dissertation “HAVES, HALVES, AND HAVE-NOTS: SCHOOL LIBRARIES AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN CALIFORNIA” for the PhD program for the University of North Texas.

  4. Matt said

    Here is a position paper from Rutgers University’s Center for international Scholarship in School Libraries, that discusses the relationship between school libraries and student achievement.