How to Maximize Your School Library for Student Learning

Published on Nov 18, 2015

In this presentation, learn about leveraging the resources of the school librarian and library to help attain your student learning priorities. Examples of spaces, collaborations, and learning activities that characterize today’s best school libraries; guidance in identifying needs that library programs can support; and strategies for building or refining a library program that provides academic rigor, stimulates curiosity, and lays the groundwork for independent reading, critical thinking, and information seeking. It is OK to be disruptive and even noisy in this library conversation!


How to Maximize Your School Library for
Student Learning
ASCD Annual Conference, March 21, 2015
Rebecca Morris, PhD - UNC Greensboro

Photo by Heather Burks

Today's Topics

  • How your school library aligns with your school priorities
  • Your school library in action (examples)
  • Ways for school leaders to strengthen & support school library programs
Photo by Heather Burks

how your school library aligns with your school priorities

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to begin, name 3 things that students do at the school library

yes, and . . .

in today's school libraries, students

  • read across formats
  • collaborate to construct knowledge
  • access, evaluate, and use information
  • develop identities as readers, learners, & participants in community
  • use technology tools to communicate, learn, and play
  • self-assess their learning

libraries address school priorities:

  • literacy
  • collaboration
  • community
  • technology & STEM/STEAM skills
  • college and career readiness
  • critical thinking

The compelling “school library impact” studies in 22 states consistently identify school libraries as a factor in increases in student standardized test scores

Kachel et al., Debra. School Library Research Summarized: A Graduate Class Project. 2nd ed. Mansfield, PA: Mansfield University, 2013.

Recent key finding: A 2013 study of school libraries in Pennsylvania specifically examined subgroups that tend to experience the achievement gap, and found that, along with better reading and writing test scores across all students with a full-time certified librarian, “students who are economically disadvantaged, black, Hispanic, and have IEPs (i.e., students with disabilities) benefit proportionally more than students generally"

(Kachel and Lance 2013)

Kachel, Debra and Keith Curry Lance. "Latest Study: A full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement." School Library Journal. (March 7, 2013).

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To provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the school library program is aligned with the mission, goals, and objectives of the school and the school district, and is an integral component of the learning/instructional program

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Rich, Motoko. In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update. The New York Times. (February 15, 2009).

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Principals Know: School Librarians Are the Heart of the School

Roles of Today's School Librarian

  • Instructional partner
  • Teacher
  • Information specialist
  • Program administrator
  • Leader
AASL. Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs. Chicago: ALA, 2009.

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Harada, Violet H. and Joan M. Yoshina. Assessing for Learning: Librarians and Teachers as Partners. Denver: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

your school library in action

Photo by Enokson

“Inquiry is a way of learning that prepares students to think for themselves, makes thoughtful decisions, develop areas of expertise, and learn throughout their lives.”

“ . . . inquiry is an approach to learning that involves students in finding and using a variety of sources of information and ideas to increase their understanding of a specific area of the curriculum.”
Lamb and Callison, Graphic Inquiry, 2012

Lamb, Annette and Daniel Callison. Graphic Inquiry. Denver: Libraries Unlimited, 2012.

Get Graphic: Visuals for Deep Inquiry, Thinking, and Learning


student-developed questions
self-reflection in research tasks
“non-google-able” assignments
learning products for real audiences
multiple ways of solving problems
agency and choice in reading
learning demonstrated by varied products
revisitation of big ideas across content areas

literacy learning

Photo by riaskiff


Photo by eltpics

home & family connections

critical thinking

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ways school leaders can strengthen & support school library programs

Photo by Earthworm

the specific components of school library programs found to have a positive association with student achievement include:

staffing, collaboration, instruction, scheduling, access, summer reading programs, technology, collections, budget, and professional development
(School Library Impact Studies)

Kachel et al., Debra. School Library Research Summarized: A Graduate Class Project. 2nd ed. Mansfield, PA: Mansfield University, 2013.
Photo by Earthworm

to start . . .

  • visit your library & talk to librarian, teachers, students
  • discuss forms of evidence of student learning in library

consider how school schedule affords (or limits) learning time in the library

encourage & be receptive to new partnerships & library spaces

use the library to foster (or amplify) a culture of collaboration

ask about & observe the professional and more clerical tasks of the librarian

invite librarians to serve on district or school committees

look to librarians to lead professional development

view the library as a key link to students' families

maximize student learning with your school library!

Photo by Heather Burks

thank you.
Rebecca Morris

Rebecca Morris

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