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A school library (or a school library media center) is a library within a school where students, staff, and often, parents of a public (state) or private (fee paying) school have access to a variety of resources. The goal of the school library media center is to ensure that all members of the school community have equitable access "to books and reading, to information, and to information technology."[1] A school library media center "uses all types of media... is automated, and utilizes the Internet [as well as books] for information gathering."[2] School libraries are distinct from public libraries because they serve as "learner-oriented laboratories which support, extend, and individualize the school's curriculum... A school library serves as the center and coordinating agency for all material used in the school."[3]

Relationship to educational achievement[]

Researchers have demonstrated that school libraries have a positive impact on educational achievement. More than 60 studies have been conducted in 19 U.S. states and one Canadian province. The major finding of these studies is that students with access to a well-supported school library media program with a qualified school library media specialist, scored higher on reading assessments regardless of their socio-economic statuses. In addition, a study conducted in Ohio[4] revealed that 99.4% of students surveyed believed that their school librarians and school library media programs helped them succeed in school. A report that reported similar conclusions was compiled by Michele Lonsdale in Australia in 2003.[5]

The purpose of the school library[]


Inside a school library.

School library media centers in the 21st century can, and should be, hubs for increased student achievement and positive focused school reform--Kathleen D. Smith [6]

The school library exists to provide a range of learning opportunities for both large and small groups as well as individuals with a focus on intellectual content, information literacy, and the learner.[7] In addition to classroom visits with collaborating teachers, the school library also serves as a place for students to do independent work, use computers, equipment and research materials; to host special events such as author visits and book clubs; and for tutoring and testing.

The school library media center program is a collaborative venture in which school library media specialists, teachers, and administrators work together to provide opportunities for the social, cultural, and educational growth of students. Activities that are part of the school library media program can take place in the school library media center, the laboratory classroom, through the school, and via the school library's online resources.[8]

The school library collection[]

School libraries are similar to public libraries in that they contain books, films, recorded sound, periodicals, realia, and digital media. These items are not only for the education, enjoyment, and entertainment of the all members of the school community, but also to enhance and expand the school's curriculum.

See also[]

  • School Library Association (UK)
  • Teacher-librarian
  • Virtual school library
  • Learning Resource Centre

Notes and references[]

  1. The goals of the school library program should support the mission and continuous improvement plan of the school district.Standards for the 21st Century Learner
  2. Morris, B. (2004). Administering the school library media center. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (p.32).
  3. Morris, 2004, p.32
  4. Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C., & OELMA. (2004). Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries : The Ohio Research Study. Available online at:
  5. Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: A review of the research. Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research. Available online at
  6. Smith, K. (2002). "Building Student Learning Through School Libraries." Statement delivered at the White House Conference on School Libraries, available from:
  7. Morris, 2004
  8. Morris, 2004

External links[]

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