Improving Literacy through School Libraries: Evaluation Report

Article excerpt

The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program was created in 2001 as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. A competitive grant awards program that is now in its fourth cycle, ILTSL provides targeted 1-year grants to school libraries in districts where at least 20% of the students come from families whose annual income falls below the poverty line. A recently published report, Evaluation of the Improving Literacy Through School libraries Program (www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/libraries/intro.html), examines the positive changes that these schools have been able to make as a result of receiving the ILTSL grant. The report concludes that grant-recipient schools were able to improve their libraries whereas comparable schools that did not receive the grant made little or no changes.

The main data source for the report is a survey of 400 schools that received grant funding in 2003-2004, matched to another 400 schools that would have been eligible for grant funding but did not receive such extra funds. The survey asked schools to explain how grant funds were used. Overall, schools that received grants doubled expenditures for the school library. Schools spent most of their ILTSL grant funds (68%) on new print resources, on purchasing new hardware (11%), and on extending after-school library hours by adding staff (11%). Grant recipients were able to improve their collections by acquiring more books in 2003-2004 than those of nongrantees (averages of 1,250 and 730 books, respectively).

The survey also reported that locally funded expenditures were not negatively affected by the receipt of the federal grant. Grant recipients reported that they were able to increase operational hours--and thus student access--to increase weekly per-student visits and assistance to students on research projects, as well as to provide new or expanded after-school library programs and new and expanded work on curriculum issues. …