"The library media center professional staff collect and correlate data annually to demonstrate the positive effect of the school library program on student learning and achievement and formally report to the school leadership the results of the impact studies."

Achieving Exemplary School Libraries: Standards for South Carolina School Library Media Programs, Objective 5

The instructional role of the school librarian is well defined in the American Association of School Librarians' document, Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs and in its companion documents.Functioning as a collaborative planning and instructional partner with teachers, the school librarian, "serves as a leader in implementing quality instruction and creating authentic learning experiences." (Empowering learners: Guidelines, 2009). The role’s potential impact on student learning has been well described in the professional literature. Research documenting this impact has been building with a series of studies conducted by Dr. Keith Curry Lance, known as the School library Impact Studies. In a September 2011 Lance study published by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, it was stated that, "Access to a full-time, certified librarian dramatically impacted student scores on the PSSA Writing Tests, particularly for high school students." ("Pennsylvania school library," 2011)

Working in conjunction with the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL), Dr. Ross Todd at Rutgers University’s Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) has conducted additional research. Entitled The New Jersey Study of School Libraries: One Common Goal - Student Learning, this study of the instructional efforts of 700 New Jersey school librarians was conducted and reported on in two phases, with Phase 2 released February 15, 2012. Both reports and Executive Summaries are available at www.njasl.org

Significant findings in Phase 1 on the contribution of school librarians’ impact on student learning:
• “Improvements in test scores;
• Developments of thinking-based competencies in using information and development of positive ethical values in relation to the use of information and technology; and • Increased interest in reading, increased participation in reading, the development of wider reading interests, and becoming readers that are more discriminating.”

Phase 2 findings (from selected effective school libraries:
• “The school library is a learning center linked to classroom instruction;
• The school library supports the school’s mission to produce literate and informed learners who can thrive in a digital, knowledge-based world;
• The school library is a 21st century classroom that provides an understanding of the information and technology students will confront as digital citizens;
• The school library sets the stage for student-initiated inquiry; and
• The school librarian is a co-teacher who undertakes an active role in engaging in shared instruction.” (NJASL Press Release, February 15, 2012)

In a 21st century educational environment that is focused on Common Core state standards, data-driven instruction, and the evaluation of teacher effectiveness, school librarians also must provide evidence of their value as part of the instructional team. While nationally focused research contributes to the argument for continuing to have school librarians as part of the instructional staff in a school, ultimately stakeholders in your school and your community want to know about your program. You have the responsibility to document the contributions and impact of your own school library program.

Dr. David Loertscher (working with Dr. Ross Todd) suggests in the book, We Boost Achievement: Evidence-Based Practice for School Library Media Specialists, four areas of the library media program that should be represented by evidence-based practice and documented for their impact on student achievement: collaboration, reading, information literacy, and technology (Loertscher, 2003). The book provides specific strategies and tools for gathering evidence that are examples of the types of resources needed to develop long-range plans for gathering evidence through input and output measures, formative and summative assessments, pre- and post-assessments, benchmark evaluations, and more. Data and evidence should be showcased in monthly and/or annual reports for administrators, highlights for parents, and summaries or presentations for other audiences such as the local school board and the community.

(2009). Empowering learners: Guidelines for school library media programs.. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians.

Coker, E. (2015). The Washington State School Library Impact Study. Washington: Washington Library Media Association.


Loertscher, D. (2003). We boost achievement: Evidence-based practice for schooll library media specialists. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research & Publishing.

Jersey Association of School Librarians. (2012, February 12). Effective school library programs positively impact student achievement. Retrieved from http://www.njasl.org/documents/pressrelease215_000.pdf

Pennsylvania State Board of Education, (2011). Pennsylvania school library study: Findings and recommendations . Retrieved from: http://issuu.com/dkachel/docs/stateboardstudy/1

South Carolina Department of Education, School Library Media Services. Achieving exemplary school libraries: Standards for south carolina school library media rograms.
Retrieved from http://scschoollibraries.pbworks.com/f/Achieving_Exemplary_School_Libraries2.doc

Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A., & Lu, Y. (2010, July). Report of findings and recommendations of the New Jersey school library survey phase 1: One common goal: Student learning. Retrieved from http://www.njasl.org/documents/njasl_phase_1.pdf

Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A., & Lu, Y. (2011, November). One common goal: Student learning: Report of findings and recommendations of the New Jersey school library survey phase 2. Retrieved from http://www.njasl.org/documents/NJASLPhase2FINALFINAL102011