Evidence-based practice and why it matters

Children in library.

All rights reserved

Principals, library, and teaching staff make decisions every day that affect the success of their library. Using evidence-based practice helps you identify your users' needs, point to potential improvements, and measure the impact of any changes you make.
  • What is evidence-based practice?

    Evidence-based practice in school libraries takes a learner-centered approach to library development. You'll gather and analyse evidence that will help you:

    • understand your learners' needs
    • reflect on how and why you do things in a particular way
    • consider other ways that might lead to better outcomes for students.

    You can gather evidence from:

    • research about education and library best practices
    • your existing library practice, professional knowledge and experience
    • your own library setting, especially your library users’ points of view.
  • What is evidence-based practice?

    Evidence-based practice in school libraries takes a learner-centered approach to library development. You'll gather and analyse evidence that will help you:

    • understand your learners' needs
    • reflect on how and why you do things in a particular way
    • consider other ways that might lead to better outcomes for students.

    You can gather evidence from:

    • research about education and library best practices
    • your existing library practice, professional knowledge and experience
    • your own library setting, especially your library users’ points of view.
  • Why is evidence-based practice important?

    Finding evidence of measured outcomes is essential to understanding how your library supports teaching and learning. It's not enough to simply say that school libraries make a difference. You need evidence to show how your library makes a difference for the learners in your school.

    Focusing on learners

    Evidence-based practice moves the focus from what school librarians do, to what students achieve. The emphasis is on finding the most effective ways to help students learn. Your library's goals and initiatives need to be based on sound research evidence and a clear understanding of learners’ needs.

    Library guiding documents

    Involving library staff in teaching and learning

    Using evidence-based practice requires that library staff are actively involved in teaching and learning activities.

    Collaboration and partnerships

    Building evidence for change and evaluating impact

    The evidence you gather will highlight areas and opportunities for change and improvement. It can help you know the extent of problems and prioritise actions to address them.

    After you've taken action, fresh evidence can show the impact of any changes you've made.

  • Why is evidence-based practice important?

    Finding evidence of measured outcomes is essential to understanding how your library supports teaching and learning. It's not enough to simply say that school libraries make a difference. You need evidence to show how your library makes a difference for the learners in your school.

    Focusing on learners

    Evidence-based practice moves the focus from what school librarians do, to what students achieve. The emphasis is on finding the most effective ways to help students learn. Your library's goals and initiatives need to be based on sound research evidence and a clear understanding of learners’ needs.

    Library guiding documents

    Involving library staff in teaching and learning

    Using evidence-based practice requires that library staff are actively involved in teaching and learning activities.

    Collaboration and partnerships

    Building evidence for change and evaluating impact

    The evidence you gather will highlight areas and opportunities for change and improvement. It can help you know the extent of problems and prioritise actions to address them.

    After you've taken action, fresh evidence can show the impact of any changes you've made.

  • Evidence-based Manifesto

    Dr Ross Todd, of Rutgers University Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL), describes 3 dimensions of evidence-based practice in school libraries:

    • evidence for practice
    • evidence in practice, and
    • evidence of practice.

    Evidence for practice — existing research

    Evidence for practice involves examining and using existing research to identify best practices and inform changes in practice. It provides compelling evidence that school libraries and library staff have a positive impact on student achievement.

    Evidence in practice — professional knowledge and experience

    Evidence in practice draws on the knowledge and professional experience of your library staff. It includes information about your own school library setting. The evidence comes from your observations and understanding of how and why things happen in a particular way, in your library.

    Evidence of practice

    Evidence of practice focuses on finding the real results of what school libraries do. Its purpose is to find out what has changed for learners as a result of changes in practice.

    This evidence will come from information collected in your school. Student achievement data can be useful, along with evidence you’ve gathered, particularly from your library users.

  • Evidence-based Manifesto

    Dr Ross Todd, of Rutgers University Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL), describes 3 dimensions of evidence-based practice in school libraries:

    • evidence for practice
    • evidence in practice, and
    • evidence of practice.

    Evidence for practice — existing research

    Evidence for practice involves examining and using existing research to identify best practices and inform changes in practice. It provides compelling evidence that school libraries and library staff have a positive impact on student achievement.

    Evidence in practice — professional knowledge and experience

    Evidence in practice draws on the knowledge and professional experience of your library staff. It includes information about your own school library setting. The evidence comes from your observations and understanding of how and why things happen in a particular way, in your library.

    Evidence of practice

    Evidence of practice focuses on finding the real results of what school libraries do. Its purpose is to find out what has changed for learners as a result of changes in practice.

    This evidence will come from information collected in your school. Student achievement data can be useful, along with evidence you’ve gathered, particularly from your library users.

  • Find out more

    Evidence-based practice: A key to building the future of New Zealand school libraries (SLANZA, pdf) — this 2012 issue of the Collected magazine focuses on evidence-based practice, and includes Ross Todd's article.

    School Evaluation Indicators (2016) — this new version of Education Review Office's evaluation indicators reflects a deepening understanding of how schools improve and the role that evaluation plays in that process.

  • Find out more

    Evidence-based practice: A key to building the future of New Zealand school libraries (SLANZA, pdf) — this 2012 issue of the Collected magazine focuses on evidence-based practice, and includes Ross Todd's article.

    School Evaluation Indicators (2016) — this new version of Education Review Office's evaluation indicators reflects a deepening understanding of how schools improve and the role that evaluation plays in that process.