The New Jersey Association of School Libraries (NJASL) recently released the findings of a 2010-2011 survey which looked at the contributions of school libraries. The NJASL noted that many recent studies have shown that well-funded school libraries have a positive impact on student achievement, so the NJASL wanted to examine how school libraries contribute to schools. The study was done in two phases. The first phase in 2010 was a survey of more than 700 librarians representing approximately 30% of school libraries in New Jersey. The second phase, which took place in 2011, was a series of focus groups with administrators, teachers, and school librarians.
The study focused on answering two questions: “What does a good school library look like?” and “What role does a good school library play in educating New Jersey students?” The study found that a good school library helps to educate students in a variety of ways. A good school library helps students to meet core curriculum standards, master information literacy competencies, develop familiarity with the research process, use information ethically, use technology responsibly, and read for learning. The study found that school libraries are seen as necessary learning environments which teach students skills such as evaluating information quality and the use of 21st century technology in research.
The first question, “What does a good school library look like?” had a more complicated answer. School libraries were viewed by participants in the study as “21st century classrooms that provide the information- and technology-rich learning environments” and as “learning centers linked to the learning going on in the school and the learning success of the school.” The study found that a good school library provides a place for instruction and collaboration for everyone in the school.
The study also briefly looked at the future of school libraries. Participants saw a need for more space in libraries for things like writing labs, more computers, and instructional areas. They also wanted more staffing to help with instruction of teachers and students and to provide more one-on-one assistance.
To read the full study or for more information, go to http://www.njasl.info/cissl-study/