Showing the Impact of School Libraries

April is School Library Month! Celebrated since 1983, School Library Month marks the celebration of the “essential role that strong school libraries play in transforming learning” (American Association of School Libraries).

A group of children sit on the floor of a library while an adult points to something in a picture book.

Do you remember your school library? Years later, I still remember my elementary school library’s cozy reading room and how our librarian could bring Strega Nona stories to life like no one else (he even had his own magic pasta pot!). Having access to a school library with dedicated staff certainly influenced my lifelong love of reading and learning.

My experience is not unique; studies from Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service (LRS) show that access to school libraries leads to many positive outcomes for Colorado’s students. In a 2012 Closer Look study, researchers looked at the connection between reading scores in the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) and their access to endorsed school librarians or school library media specialists. (Endorsed school librarians have gotten a Teacher Librarian endorsement from the Colorado Department of Education, which is not required for non-endorsed librarians or library assistants.) They found that from 2005-2011, 4th-grade students at schools with an endorsed school librarian tended to have higher CSAP reading scores and better reading score improvement than students at schools without one.

A 2010 Closer Look study found that the presence of school librarians can help to close the achievement gap between advanced readers and students who struggle with reading. The authors found that stronger school library programs (those with more staff, funding, student visits, and circulation) were associated with lower percentages of students who received unsatisfactory CSAP reading scores. For more information about the positive effect of Colorado’s school libraries, check out LRS’s list of school library impact studies and our previous blog post sharing school library information.

Are you ready to show your appreciation to your school library? The Colorado Association of School Libraries created a school library advocacy toolkit to help everyone support and build strong school libraries in their communities.