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Impact of school library services on achievement and learning: Critical literature review of the impact of school library services on achievement and learning to inform the work of the DfES Task Group set up to implement actions contained in the Governmen

Williams, Dorothy; Wavel, Caroline; Coles, Louisa

Authors

Dorothy Williams

Caroline Wavel

Louisa Coles



Abstract

This critical literature review examines research linking educational attainment and school library use at secondary level. The study was funded by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries to inform the work of the DfES Task Group set up to implement actions contained in the Government's response to "Empowering the Learning Community". The work was conducted during the last three months of 2001. The aims of the literature review were to examine evidence from research conducted in the UK and abroad linking learning in its widest sense, encompassing processes and attitudes, with library provision, including the type of resources, nature of access and staffing. The evidence was then analysed in relation to: its applicability to primary school libraries and Schools Library Services in England; methodologies that could be used to assess impact of library provision on learning; and any gaps in the research. There was a body of research supporting the view that school libraries can have a positive impact on academic achievement, particularly at the primary and early secondary level and with appropriate action to ensure the service delivery is efficient and effective. However, much of this evidence was from countries where school librarians also have teaching training and more research would be needed to determine the extent to which the evidence is transferable. There is limited but significant research demonstrating the view that school libraries have the potential to impact on the broader aspects of learning, including vulnerable or special needs students. Where there is evidence of impact on learning, there are associated key factors of collection levels, library staffing levels and collaboration between the librarian and teacher. Training of teachers and librarians is demonstrated to raise mutual understanding of each other's contribution and roles within the school library setting. Training should include information skills development, collection mapping, planning and evaluation. There is no clear evidence to indicate the contribution made to learning by the various models of school library provision, although flexible scheduling appears to be an important factor in encouraging student use. The presence of a librarian and the quality and frequency of their instructional input has an impact on learning but the relationship between this and qualifications and personal attributes and experience is less clear. However, school librarians who take a professional and proactive approach to their role within the school can cite evidence of their impact on teaching and learning; and are more able to reflect, self-evaluate and develop further. The report makes the following recommendations. 1) Consideration is given to the pre-service and professional development training of both teachers and librarians in order to develop greater understanding of the respective professional contributions to learning in school libraries, and to encourage reflection andincrease the ability to provide evidence. 2) Funds are made available to sustain the quality of collections. 3) Consideration should be give to whether the emphasis in developing the links between the school library and learning are more appropriately begun with the primary sector. 4) A longitudinal approach, in association with appropriate interventions, is taken to examine the impact of school libraries on learning.

Report Type Research Report
Publication Date Dec 31, 2001
Publisher Robert Gordon University
Institution Citation WILLIAMS, D., WAVELL, C. and COLES, L. 2001. Impact of school library services on achievement and learning: Critical literature review of the impact of school library services on achievement and learning to inform the work of the DfES Task Group set up to implement actions contained in the Government's response to 'Empowering the Learning Community'. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University.

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