Expect More… From Your Library

Kristin Steingreaber, GPAEA Media Specialist

business women in an officeThis week, I read an article, “Librarian Required – a new study shows that a full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement” from School Library Journal, March 2013, and the results made me pause.

Based on 73% of Pennsylvania’s public schools, the PA School Library Study of 2011 concluded among others findings, these key points:

  1. Quality school library programs significantly impact the most vulnerable students.
    Students who are economically disadvantaged, black, Hispanic, and have IEPs benefit proportionally more than students generally.  These findings suggest that staffing libraries with certified librarians can help close achievement gaps. (30)
  2. Students who are poor, minority and have IEPs, but who have full-time librarians, are at least twice as likely to have “Advanced” writing scores as their counterparts without full-time librarians. (30)
  3. Generally, the benefits associated with larger staffing and collections and increased access to technology, databases, and to the library itself are proportionally greater for students who are poor, black, Hispanic and disabled. (30)
  4. For all students, those with full-time librarians are almost three times as likely to have “Advanced” writing scores as students without full-time librarians. (31)
  5. On average, almost nine percent more students score “Advanced” in reading where students have a full-time, certified librarian with support staff than where they have a full-time, certified librarian alone. (31)

What does that full-time librarian (teacher librarian) look like?

They are licensed teachers and required to have a MA.  They have the Iowa Core Literacy Standards on their desks as well as the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Standards.  (They even have the AASL – Common Core Crosswalk link handy!)

They are not sitting behind their desks, though, but actively showing how to use databases, setting up corners of their libraries for podcast creation or video-editing, creating a pathfinder or Resource List for the social studies teacher down the hall.  They are in the hall and in classrooms, sharing new books and today’s Student News Net feature.  They are posting student writing – reviews of books, research results – in the library.

They are working with media paraprofessionals to set up displays, but as important, they are using those displays to reflect the student body and the work done in their school as well as open windows to the world beyond the school.  They are doing research for a teacher to set up a Skype conversation with a biotech expert.  They work to maintain a collection that meets the needs of their students and plan their budget to make this happen.  They also borrow resources and expose their students to AEA and Public Library collections.

They are aware of the technical challenges in their district and make every effort to help their schools in this transition.  They practice with apps and spend time using Atomic Learning to find tutorials that will help staff and students.  They are modeling the use of databases and digital resources in their teaching.

They are aware of the need for professional development.  This past year, AEA Media will have provided two full day workshops.   Last fall, we had a representative here from Visual Thesaurus to show how this database can help vocabulary development.  This spring, NBC Learn digital video will be here for a second time.

There have been three half-day participatory workshops where teacher librarians can work on individual goals.  Six live webinars were offered in January and February.   Several library journals, as well as other discipline journals are available for checkout through the GPAEA catalog.

Teacher librarians can make a difference and we need to support and expect quality library programs!   The results are important and not to be missed!

Kachel, Debra E., and Keith Curry Lance. “Librarian required – a new study shows that a full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement.” School Library Journal 59.3 (2013): 28-31. Print.

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