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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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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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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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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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The Status of School Library Media Programs in Colorado, 1994-97

Library Media Staffing
The practice of librarianship is becoming de-professionalized in Colorado schools. From 1994 to 1997, the number of library media staff per 100 students dropped only slightly from .31 to .30 full-time equivalents (FTEs). During the same interval, the number of endorsed library media specialists per 100 students for the typical school library media program fell from .12 FTEs to .08 FTEs—a 33 percent cut. Library media specialists have been displaced by other staff, such as library media aides—who are not endorsed—and BOCES and contract library media staff—who may or may not be endorsed. In 1997, the statewide total hours per typical week for BOCES and contract staff was 61 hours. Barely 1.5 FTE statewide, these staff served 65 schools. That amounts to 56 minutes of “professional” staff attention per typical week to the library media program in each school.

1994-97 Highlights

  • Overall staffing static. Endorsed library media specialists cut. BOCES/contract staff spread thin.
  • Book collections holding in size, but periodical collections declining.
  • Reduced spending and inflationary prices of books and periodicals mean aging collections.

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Selected Policies and Practices of School Library Media Programs in Colorado, 1997

The 1997 Survey of School Library Media Centers (LMCs) in Colorado included, for the first time, items about a variety of issues including: LMC development plans, the Colorado Information Literacy Guidelines, policies on materials selection and challenges, and the relationship of the school library media center to the local public library.

LMC Development Plan

  • Seven out of 10 LMCs report having a plan for the development of the library media program.

Information Literacy

  • Eight out of 10 LMCs use the Colorado Information Literacy Guidelines.
  • Of that group, 2 out of 3 use them as part of an integrated curriculum, while the remaining third use them with the library media program alone.

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Technology in School Library Media Centers in Colorado 1997

A first look at 1997 data on school library media centers in Colorado reveals some new insights about the role of technology in Colorado’s school library media programs.

From 1994 to 1997, the number of library media centers (LMCs) making various technologies available to their clients—both teachers and students—increased dramatically.

Highlights:

  • Since 1994, Internet access for students has more than tripled. While only 1 in 6 LMCs provided Internet access for students in 1994, 7 out of 10 provide such access today. While 1 in 5 teachers could access the Internet via their LMC in 1994, 3 out of 4 teachers have such access today. And, practically all of these LMCs provide access to the World Wide Web.
  • In 1994, only 2 out of 5 LMCs provided access to the Access Colorado Library and Information Network (ACLIN). Today, 2 out of 3 LMCs provide such access.

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The Status of School Library Media Centers in Colorado, Neighboring States, and the United States 1993-94

The youngest of the national statistical surveys on libraries is the one for school library media centers. The first installment of this survey, which is scheduled for every 5 years, was conducted during the 1993-94 school year. Some preliminary results have just been published in SASS by State, 1993-94 Schools and Staffing Survey: Selected State Results. Though certainly dated, these results provide some important insights into the status of school library media centers in Colorado. To give those results context, they are also compared here with the results for neighboring states as well as the nation.

Highlights

  • Elementary schools more likely to lack library media specialists.
  • Poorer Colorado schools more likely to have understaffed LMCs, particularly to lack library media specialists.
  • Smallest Colorado schools more likely to have understaffed LMCs.
  • Colorado teachers indicate higher awareness of library media specialist’s role in instructional process.

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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs. We partner with the Library and Information Science program at University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education to provide research fellowships to current MLIS students.

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