The evidence is mounting! By early 2000, researchers affiliated with the Library Research Service of the Colorado State Library and the University of Denver--myself included--had completed four statewide studies on the impact of school library media programs on the academic achievement of U.S. public school students:
* "Information Empowered: The School Librarian as an Agent of Academic Achievement in Alaska"
* "Measuring Up to Standards: The Impact of School Library Programs and Information Literacy in Pennsylvania Schools"
* "How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards, The Second Colorado Study"
* "Good Schools Have School Librarians: Oregon School Librarians Collaborate to Improve Academic Achievement"
Philosophically, these studies are rooted in the "Information Power" model espoused by the American Association of School Librarians and the findings from 6 decades of research related to the impact of school library media programs on academic achievement.
The latest edition of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (1998) identifies three roles for school library media specialists. In a learning and teaching role, library media specialists advance the instructional goals of the school. As providers of information access and delivery, they develop collections and services and facilitate their use. And, as program administrators, they serve as library media center managers as well as school-wide advocates and trainers for information literacy.
PREVIOUS RESEARCH FINDINGS
Over the past half-century, there have been about 75 studies on the impact of school library media programs on academic achievement. For the three state studies we've chosen to highlight in this article--Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Colorado--each report contains an exhaustive review of this literature. For that reason, we'll only provide a thumbnail summary of that review here.
The Learning Teaching Role
Many early studies of this topic demonstrated the value of the mere presence of a professionally trained and credentialed library media specialist. Such correlations, however, beg the question of what the library media specialists are doing that makes a difference. In more recent studies, their contributions as creators of and collaborators in a …