Media specialists are seeking data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the school library media program. Over the past few decades, a number of state studies have stated that there is a strong correlation between school media programs and student achievement. However Daniel Callison and others are encouraging members of our profession to examine the research more closely. For example, Calli son suggests that although many of the studies provide useful information, most do not show a direct cause and effect relationship. He points out that there is a lack of controlled experimental research.

Although many school library media specialists have been excited about the library impact studies, it's important to remember that many educators are concerned about the cause and effect relationships that are being applied; in other words, evidence of direct correlations are difficult to establish. For instance, children who grow up in affluent neighborhoods generally have better-funded school libraries and higher achievement scores. Is that a direct result of the library program or the socioeconomic level of families who purchase and access more books and other information and technology resources?

When sharing our findings with administrators and school board members, it's important to report the data accurately.

eye means readRead Enough Already?: Blazing New Trails for School Library Research: An Interview with Keith Curry Lance, Director, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library & University of Denver (2005), Interview questions and discussion by Daniel Callison, School Library Media Research. The interview was conducted electronically July-Oct. 2005.

Also read Calison, Daniel (June 2007). Action Research (Access requires Login). School Library Media Activities Monthly; 23(10).

The newer wave of research is trying to address some of these concerns. For example, the Wisconsin Study uses case studies to show how a school media specialists who plays an extensive instructional role can make a difference in resource use and curriculum.

Explore a guide seeking to provide educational practitioners with user-friendly tools to distinguish practices supported by rigorous evidence from those that are not: Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported By Rigorous Evidence A User Friendly Guide (Dec 2003) from the U.S. Dept. of Education; 26 pages.

Use the following websites to learn more about investigations of school library media programs:

Selected State Studies

eye means readExplore some of the School Library Impact Studies at Library Research Service, Denver, CO
This is a comprehensive collection of school library impact studies completed by the center from 1993 to the present date.

Office of Accountability at the Indiana Department of Education
Includes informational, demographic, and achievement data about Indiana schools.

Nearby States
Everhart, N. and Logan, D. K. (Nov./Dec 2005). Building the Effective School Library Media Center Using the Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries Research Study. Knowledge Quest; 34(2), 51-54.
In 2002, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, in collaboration with Leadership 4 School Libraries, received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the State Library of Ohio to undertake a new research project on how school libraries help students learn.

Powerful Libraries Make Powerful Learners: The Illinois Study (2005)
The study, authored by Keith Curry Lance, links student achievement to strong student libraries.

Student Learning Through Wisconsin School Library Meida Centers - Teacher and Student Survey Report (2006) from the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction.
Related Documents:
Key Study Findings
Wisconsin Study Results

Other Data

eye means readRead The Condition of U.S. Libraries: School Library Trends, 1999-2009 (Dec. 2009). American Library Association.
This report highlights recent U.S. economic trends (2009) and summarizes trends in public, school, and academic libraries during the decade for: number of libraries and population served, expenditures, staffing, and services.

Annual Reports from the National Center for Education Statistics
Related Resources:
2) Characteristics of Public, Private, and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Library Media Centers in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey
Selected findings are presented in this First Look report. Topics covered include: access to and use of a variety of information technologies, library facilities, services and policies, library staffing, feedback on students' level of information literacy and collections and expenditures. Contains a variety of information about school library media centers in public and BIE K-12 schools in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.
3) School District Demographics System

School Library: Statistics from The American Library Association

Statistical Studies of School Libraries
Links to many studies of school libraries.

Make It Real

What types of data would be best for influencing your school; what data would carry the most weight with teachers, administrators, members of the school board, and the community? Would the results of a library impact study completed in another state carry lots of clout?

Decide what data you should collect in your own school library setting.

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Read More About It

Reading 'Can bring Social Change'. BBC News, Nov. 20, 2002.

Research and Statistics at AASL

Canadian and Provincial Library Surveys from SLiP Canadian Library Association

School Libraries and Their Impact on Student Performance (Sept 2003). Research Brief from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; 1(18).

Strong Libraries Improve Student Achievement
(2000 / 2010) at Education World.

Whelan, D.L. (Feb. 2004). 13,000 Kids Can’t Be Wrong (Access requires login). School Library Journal; 50(2).
Ohio study shows how school libraries help students learn.

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