Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oregon schools: One librarian for 4,000 students

The number of licensed school librarians in Oregon schools dropped by 82 percent, according to the Oregon Library Association, from 818 full-time equivalents in 1980 to 144 in 2013. In a statement issued Thursday, OLA states that in 1980 there was one librarian per 547 students, compared to almost 4,000 students per librarian in 2013.

OLA adds that: “The sizeable drop in numbers runs counter to the impact of school librarians on learning.” It cites a 2012 report, Creating 21st Century Learners, which found that reading and writing test scores increased in Pennsylvania schools when a full-time, licensed librarian was employed at a school.

And according to Douglas L. Achterman writing his doctoral dissertation for the University of North Texas, December 2008 (Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California), “Staffing is arguably the facet that has the most far-reaching impact on the overall quality of [a school library] program” (41).

Achterman cites a recent position statement by the American Association of School Librarians, stating, “The success of any school library media program, no matter how well designed, depends ultimately on the quality and number of the personnel responsible for the program. A well-educated and highly motivated professional staff, adequately supported by technical and clerical staff, is critical to the endeavor” (41-42).

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