Importance of the school library in learning — the research

Students working in their school library

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Research shows that school libraries have a positive impact on student literacy and learning outcomes. Read a selection of research reports illustrating the effectiveness of library services that are aligned with the school’s vision and learning goals.

School libraries enhance student achievement

Research provides compelling evidence that school libraries and library staff have a positive impact on student achievement. Studies show that this remains true when variables such as socioeconomic factors are accounted for.

The research into school library impact shows higher student performance:

  • improved reading test scores
  • higher academic achievement, and
  • positive attitudes towards learning.

School libraries impact studies — compiled by Colorado Department of Education's Library Research Service (LRS).

The impact of school libraries on student achievement: Exploring the school library impact studies — a series of video interviews that explore and supplement the LRS studies.

New Zealand research

School Libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand survey — read reports from an ongoing series of national surveys about school libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand. The surveys are a collaboration between National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools, the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). The survey series started in 2018.

Education Counts — NCEA fact sheets and the latest reports on information skills, reading, and mathematical and scientific literacy from:

  • Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
  • Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
  • National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP)
  • National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA), and
  • Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Primary award recipients 2014: Bruce, Jeffrey — 'Linking Library with Learning: A study of how library can be developed into a multimedia learning hub in order to further facilitate student research' — Jeffrey Bruce's report focuses on effective links between classroom programmes and library usage in NZ and Australian schools, including the use of multimedia and school library staffing.

NZ school librarians, technology leaders? — Susan Clephane's Master of Information Studies (MIS) thesis focuses on views of New Zealand secondary school librarians around their role as technology leaders and what helps or hinders their position as technology managers.

Unlocking the potential of school libraries: What actions are New Zealand primary school principals taking to integrate the school library in information literacy initiatives — Elisabeth Mei-Xing Ngan's MIS thesis investigates the actions of New Zealand primary school principals to integrate the school library in information literacy initiatives.

These reports can help you stay up-to-date with developments in library practice, learning approaches and digital technologies.

Ten trends (NZ) — Core Education predicts how digital technologies will influence and impact on early childhood, school, and tertiary education.

IFLA trend report — this 2016 International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions report aims to map and predict broad societal changes such as access to information, education, privacy, new forms of digital engagement and technological transformation.

Valuing our libraries (NZ) — commissioned by the Library and Information Advisory Commission, and developed by LIANZA, this report identifies the impact libraries, including school libraries, have on individuals, communities and New Zealand society as a whole. It includes challenges facing the library sector and describes the potential extension of a national approach to overcome these challenges.

NMC/CoSN horizon report: 2016 K-12 edition (US) — explores 6 key trends, 6 significant challenges, and 6 important developments in educational technology in the context of their likely impact on schools over the short-, medium- or long-term.

PEW Research Center (US) — research and innovative thinking exploring libraries, reading, and literacy in the digital age.

School library futures

eBooks in the school library

International research

Australian and New Zealand school library survey report — Softlink's report outlines the findings of their survey of Australian and New Zealand school library budgets, staffing levels, and use of digital devices and digital resources. The outcomes show the correlation between school library budgets and literacy levels.

Student success (US) — the American Library Association promotes the value of school libraries and librarians, drawing on US research studies.

School libraries work (US) — Scholastic's 2016 update of this compendium of research draws on research studies at national and state level that show school libraries support student academic achievement.

Strong school libraries build strong students (US) (pdf) — this infographic from the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) compiles key points and quotations from many sources about the links between student achievement and school libraries.

Why school libraries matter
Reading for pleasure — a door to success
Research on the summer slide and summer reading
Evidence-based school library practice