Digital Literacy Libraries

School Libraries – More Important Than Ever

school libraries
Written by Susan Meyer

This April, we give a special thanks to school libraries and the incredible professionals who run them in honor of School Library Month.

Libraries and the innovative and imaginative librarians who run them are an invaluable part of their schools. They introduce students to a world of wisdom. They enable students to access and understand an incredible wealth of digital and traditional resources. Ultimately, they empower students to become shrewd researchers and knowledge-driven digital citizens.

April is School Library Month, a celebration created by the American Association of School Librarians to promote and appreciate school librarians and the impact they have on students. TCEA is proud to support our librarian members with resources and professional development opportunities all year long. In honor of School Library Month, we wanted to share a little of what makes libraries and librarians so critical to schools.

Significant, Measurable Impact on Student Success

In the nonstop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us with floaties and teach us to swim.
–Linton Weeks

We all know that libraries develop strong readers and writers. But as any librarian will tell you, it’s important to back up your statements with sources. A 2013 study by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) looked into what school libraries contribute to student achievement and the development of 21st century learning skills. What they found wasn’t too surprising. Reading and writing scores are consistently better for students who have a full-time certified librarian at their school over those who don’t. The study also found that these benefits were even greater among minority students, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. This suggests that libraries might be one key to closing achievement gaps.

This data isn’t unique to Pennsylvania, of course. In fact, 21 state studies all confirm that the presence of certified librarians in schools leads to a measurable difference in student achievement.

Preparing Students for the Future

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.
–Ray Bradbury

School libraries pave the way for student success, not only in the PreK-12 environment, but in the rest of their lives. Librarians provide essential skills for college and job readiness. These skills include information retrieval and evaluation, as well as the ability to communicate data. These core competencies will come in handy in most university programs and careers. Additionally, students with effective library programs have higher graduation rates. This is particularly true in schools with vulnerable student populations. 

The digital divide that might stand in the way of students reaching their goals is bridged by access to libraries. School libraries can support digital literacy by providing access to technology and technological instruction. School librarians are also able to provide the space and personalized guidance to play an integral role in helping students achieve the skills they need for future success.

School Libraries Support Classroom Teachers

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.
–Neil Gaiman

School libraries don’t just support student populations. They help support teachers, too. They can supply educators with new resources and tools they might not be aware of or otherwise have access to. School librarians also collaborate with classroom teachers to integrate literature and information literacy into the curriculum. By helping students develop a love of reading and a strong command of print and electronic resources, librarians provide teachers with students ready to dive into the curriculum and produce well-researched assignments.

As an example, research shows that students are more effective at learning to read when provided with rotating selections of leveled readers that allow for student selection. While every classroom might not be able to support a rotating selection of leveled readers, a library can. And a librarian can help students find books that may spark their interest. 

If you’re lucky enough to know a librarian, don’t forget to tell them what an awesome job they’re doing–not just this month–but all year long. And if you are a librarian yourself, rest assured that your impact is felt greatly, as you shape the next generation of information-savvy citizens.

 

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About the author

Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer is the Communications Specialist at TCEA. She is the editor of TCEA’s quarterly print and digital magazine TechEdge and is a contributing writer for the TechNotes blog. Her background is in educational publishing, and, prior to working with tcea, she spent the last eight years editing and producing content for digital, educational products. Meyer is the author of over 20 books targeted for grades 5-12 on topics ranging from developing an online brand identity to creating collaborative learning experiences with digital tools.

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