Monday, March 24, 2014

SMART Goals for Visibility:

From time to time I am asked about the "research" behind the efficacy of the school librarian.   I want to take a quick minute to post some of the best resources here for those that may need to share these with budgetary decision makers.  (Listed below) 

In this issue of Scholastic's Administrator, I have a short article entitled: Your Hidden Asset.  Let's hope we're not too hidden! (I did not choose the title).  Now, we know that too many administrators just don't frequent your library doors, and Scholastic meant that title figuratively, but let's make it our goal to insure we are seen and heard.   The research will not do you much good if you are not connecting to the classroom, kids, and being visible with your principal.   Consider some Spring SMART goals for visibility.  Here are a few examples:

One of our local elementary librarians, Jen , advocated for bags to enable her to send home 5 books with each student this summer.  She works in a high-needs district and commented, "I know some will be lost, but I don't care.  We have to work to reduce the summer slide and I know many kids have no books at home."   She said she is planning on telling the kids to share and to bring them back.   This will be the first year of this program so it will be interesting to see the data on what is lost.  Dare we say it will be a small cost compared to the lost reading ground retained?   

To find other ways to be seen and hear, order a copy of Make a Big Impact @ Your School Board Meeting.   - From Libraries Unlimited. 

Here are a list of the white papers for advocacy and more: 

  • American Association of School Librarians (n.d.). Strong School Libraries Build Strong Students.  Click here 

  • American Association of School Librarians (2012).  School Libraries Count:  National Longitudinal Study of School Library Programs.    A report of the annual online survey of school library programs in the United States. Findings  indicate that despite cuts in many areas, school library programs remain consistently strong.  However, the survey also indicated that the number of computers outside of the library with networked access to services has significantly increased.   The trend is to increase remote access  to library licensed databases.
  • American Library Association (2007). Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding and  Technology Access Study 2006-2007.    This survey of technology access in libraries throughout the United States demonstrates that  technology is attracting larger numbers of people to public libraries each year. It includes  information on children as consumers of technology, especially as users of databases that help with  homework.

  • American Librarian Association (n.d.). Add It Up: Libraries Make the Difference – Talking Points. These advocacy documents provide readers with talking points in favor of funding of public and school libraries. Public library  School library
  • Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (2010; 2011).  The New Jersey Study of  School Libraries:  One Common Goal-LearningExecutive summaries of an intense two-phase study of school libraries in the New Jersey educational  program indicating that libraries and librarians contribute to the intellectual life and development of students in complex and diverse ways.


  1. I love Jen's idea! My administration gave me permission last summer to let each student in grades three-six take a book or two home for the summer, mostly because I could not bear to make a student turn in a book they were in the middle of at the end of June. I was pleasantly surprised that I did get most of the books back in September. I really like the idea of bags and will be interested to hear results!
    Karen Fronhofe

  2. This summer, the three junior high schools in our district will be giving bags to all students and letting them fill them up for the summer. To help with returns, we will partner with local public libraries to be on the look out for our titles. We also plan to open up the library for an hour or two a few times over the summer so students can return or check out more books. Last summer, one junior high piloted the program, and around 1,400 books were checked out for the summer and nearly all (97%) of these books were returned by December. I'd say that's pretty successful!

  3. A wonderful paraeducator at our school started a used bookstore where students can purchase books for only 50 cents and even trade books. It is right across from the library. I think we are a great compliment to one another. Together we formed a birthday book club to help grow a student's at-home library- each student gets a brand new, wrapped book on their birthday each year. PTO gave our students a book to kickstart summer reading. Our public library is doing a reading rally and book giveaway with our school this spring and they also have a friends of the library bookstore with 25 and 50 cent books. There are so many great resources for our students and I think it is important to instill responsibility and the knowledge that library funds, public and school, are limited and students are expected to take care of the book and return it or else pay to replace it. In another manner of speaking, I do a disservice to other patrons when I allow a student to negligently lose and damage books in rapid succession.