Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Best Sellers" Campaign for Strong School Libraries

The California School Library Association is going into high gear in promoting its grassroots advocacy effort, the CSLA "Best Sellers" Campaign for Strong School Libraries. CSLA introduced the campaign at its November conference and will continue to promote it to its members -- they are the grassroots! "Best Sellers" work to save California's school libraries and teacher librarians and to help our students become college and career ready.

California’s massive budget cuts have dramatically impacted K-12 public school library programs. The national average for the ratio of students to teacher librarians is 1 to 916. California ranks last in the nation with a current ratio of 1 to 5,124. The number of credentialed teacher librarians has continued to drop each of the last 5 years and is now at 1,151 for 9,846 schools in the state. Additionally, the age of library book collections has increased due to a lack of funding.

Why is a quality school library so important? According to research by Doug Achterman, PhD, in his work entitled “Haves, Halves and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement,” California public schools with strong school library programs outperform those without such programs on the state’s STAR tests. This is true regardless of the school community’s parent education and poverty levels, ethnicity, and percentage of English language learners. Policymakers fight to improve student performance, so this remarkable data should not be overlooked or ignored. Achterman’s research shows that increases in the following library program elements correspond to increased STAR test scores at the elementary, middle school and high school levels:

  • Total hours library open
  • Total technology available through the library
  • Total services provided by library staff
  • Offering a program of curriculum-integrated information literacy instruction
  • Informally instructing students in the use of resources
  • Providing teachers with information about new resources
  • Providing reference assistance to students and teachers

What can "Best Sellers" do?

  • Study the issues and the impact of strong school libraries on student success and put this information to work in whatever you do - speaking, writing, policymaking.
  • Encourage your local school districts and communities to include strong school libraries as a key solution to improving academic achievement.
  • Become an advocate or Best Seller for strong school libraries and their role in developing 21st Century learners and workers by telling the story of why school libraries are a crucial component of student academic success. Learn what it means to be a “Best Seller” and invite others to become advocates as well.
  • Read the national research on school libraries. The document, “School Libraries Work,” chronicles the research done in 19 states on the value of school libraries. The cornerstone of student success is their ability to read. The research shows that access to a quality school library is the most important factor in student success.

I'll keep track of this important California campaign.

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