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Well-Managed Library Media Programs That Cooperate with Local Public Libraries Linked to Higher CSAP Test Scores

In 1997, Colorado fourth graders were the state’s first public schoolchildren to be tested on reading via the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). Average test scores for a stratified and weighted random sample of 74 (8%) of Colorado’s 908 elementary schools were combined with data about their library media programs to answer the following questions:

Are students likely to earn higher reading scores if:

  • there is a plan for the development of their school’s library media program?
  • there is a collection development policy that guides the library media specialist’s selection of learning resources?
  • there is a relationship between the school library media program and the local public library?
  • public library staff visit the library media center to present book talks?
  • the local public library provides a summer reading program to prevent the loss of reading skills progress during the break between school years?

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Student Use of Library Media Programs Key to NAEP Success

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released the long-awaited results of its latest survey on school library media programs, School Library Media Centers: 1993-94 (NCES 98-282). Though access to the resulting data file is severely restricted, some of the report’s summary tables by state permit some rudimentary impact assessment when combined with average state reading scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).1

Combined, three variables—the ratio of students to library media specialists, weekly LMC visits per student, and weekly circulation per student—explain 51 percent of the variation in NAEP reading test scores for 1994.

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The Colorado Library Card: A Resource Sharing Success Story

In Spring 1998, 133 (85 percent) of the 156 public, academic, and special libraries participating in the CLC program responded to an evaluation survey. By sector, the response rates were: public, 99 out of 112 or 88 percent; academic, 23 out of 29 or 79 percent; and special, 11 out of 15 or 73 percent. The results indicate that the Colorado Library Card program is an overwhelming success.

  • Colorado Library Card libraries generally extend the same borrowing privileges to other Coloradans as to their primary clientele. This is the core principle of the CLC agreement signed by participating libraries.
    • At 9 out of 10 CLC libraries, non-resident2 users can borrow books and audio books on the same terms as residents, as well as return materials borrowed from other libraries. Among the respondents, such privileges are almost universal among public and special libraries and are extended by 3 out of 4  academic libraries.

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Smaller Secondary Schools Less Likely to Meet North Central Association Staffing Requirements for Library Media Programs

One of the few categories in which the North Central Association specifies quantitative requirements for middle and secondary schools is staffing. Among the categories of staffing included is library media.

The requirements are, by almost any definition, extremely modest: a half-time library media specialist in schools with enrollments of 1,000 and less, and a full-time specialist only in schools with enrollments exceeding 1,000. Statewide, 1 out of 3 Colorado middle and secondary schools does not meet these requirements.

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Technology Trends for Colorado School Library Media Programs, 1994-98

A first look at 1998 data on school library media (LM) programs in Colorado reveals some encouraging trends about the role of technology in those programs. From 1994 to 1998, the percentage of LM programs making various technologies available to their clients—both teachers and students—increased dramatically.

Highlights:

  • Since 1994, Internet access for students almost quadrupled. While only 1 in 6 LM programs provided Internet access for students in 1994, 4 out of 5 provide students access to the World Wide Web today.
  • The Access Colorado Library and Information Network (ACLIN), available in only 2 out of 5 schools in 1994, is now available to all schools that provide web access.
  • Computers with modems, local and district catalogs, and online database searching are also more common in 1998 than in 1994, as are “basic” technology items, such as touch-tone telephones, photocopiers, and fax machines.

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Creating Change in Challenging Times: Marketing Skills for School Library Media Specialists

During 1997, the Colorado Library Marketing Council sponsored a series of workshops to develop the marketing and customer service skills of school library media specialists and to encourage them to adopt “internal locus of control”—i.e., to understand that the status of their positions can be attributed largely to factors under their own control. Recently, having allowed an interval of 6 months to elapse since the last in the series of workshops, the Library Research Service conducted a follow-up survey of participants to assess the impact of these events. Twenty out of 25 questionnaires were returned, for an 80 percent response rate. The accompanying table (see the full report) presents the results of that survey, including the number and percentage of participants marking each response.

Answers to most of the questions indicate that the workshops were highly successful:

  • Virtually all of the responding participants (95 percent) indicate 1) that they are now more likely to attribute the status of their positions in their schools to factors they can control, 2) that they have integrated improved marketing and customer service skills into their jobs, and 3) that they have actually changed what they do based on their own market research projects.

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Library Media Specialists & Technology Linked to Higher CSAP Test Scores

In 1997, Colorado fourth graders were the state’s first public schoolchildren to be tested on reading via the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). Average test scores for a stratified and weighted random sample of 67 (seven percent) of Colorado’s 908 elementary schools were combined with data about their library media programs to answer the following questions:

Are students likely to earn higher reading scores if:

  • their schools have state-endorsed library media specialists?
  • their school library media specialists are supported by aides?
  • their library media specialists play a vital instructional role, complementing the work of classroom teachers?

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After School Operations in Colorado Library Media Centers

The Library Research Service recently conducted a Fast Facts survey of Colorado library media centers (LMCs) to collect information about being open after regular school hours. LMCs that reported after school hours in the LRS annual survey were sent this survey (82 libraries). Fifty-six questionnaires (68 percent) were completed and returned.

It should come as no surprise that regular media center staff are working both normal school hours and after school, even occasionally volunteering their time.

  • 54 percent are library media aides,
  • 45 percent are CDE-endorsed school library media specialists, and
  • 29 percent are librarians with MLS.

After School Highlights

  • 91% staffed by regular staff
  • 64% of after-school hours paid by school districts
  • 44% of staff work additional hours for same hourly wage (the most frequent practice)
  • 14% of staff volunteer their time

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School Library Media Programs in Colorado Typical of Nation, 1995-96

Recently released national statistics on school library media (LM) programs for the 1995-96 school year suggest that LM programs in Colorado are fairly typical of the nation. In their biennial survey for School Library Journal, Miller and Shontz report figures on 5  topics for which comparable state data are available. Those topics are: staffing, spending, holdings, technology, and planning time.

How Colorado Stands Out

  • Elementary and combined schools less likely to have LM specialists.
  • Elementary and middle schools not as well funded.
  • More likely to have fax capability and computers with modems.
  • LM specialists spend a third less time planning with teachers.

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After School and Weekend Hours of Library Media Centers in Colorado Public Schools, 1997

Time is precious during the school day, whether one is a student, a teacher, a staff member, or an administrator. All too often sufficient time cannot be found to visit the school library media center (LMC) during regular school hours. What’s a person to do? One commonly used alternative is the local public library; but in many small and outlying communities public libraries are open even fewer hours than LMCs. Besides, few public libraries anywhere in the state develop staff and collections with the intention that they serve as adequate substitutes for their school counterparts. Ideally, then, students, teachers, and others—including parents—would be able to visit their school’s LMC at some time beyond the regular school schedule, either after school on weekdays or on the weekend. Of course, such “after hours” access requires a variety of resources, including staff, funding, training, and a secure facility. The number and schedule of such hours will vary based on the school and the community.

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