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Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, school library leaders have articulated the
goals of school library programs in instructional terms and in relation to student achievement.
Although secondary school libraries did not begin to proliferate systematically until the mid-
1920s (Woolls, 2005) this connection is reflected in the professional and academic literature
much earlier. Of the school library program's contribution to developing lifelong readers, Ahern
said, "Beyond and more important than the assistance which reading gives to the work of the
school is the formation here of the reading habit. If the child leaves school acquainted with a
number of good books and a love for good books, he has a precious possession worth more to
him than any study in the curriculum; something that will not only help him in his daily work,
but will throw a safeguard about his leisure" (1905, p.280). In the same year, Miner expressed
her desire for large-scale funding of school libraries, saying, "We need a public school Carnegie.
A book in the hand is worth two in the stack. A school library may increase tenfold the influence
of the school upon the pupils' reading-a library with many duplicate copies, a loan library, with a
librarian, and with easy reading in foreign languages, as well as our own" (p. 183).
Keyes (1914) recognized that the strength of a school library begins with its librarian in
describing the scene at her school:
At the desk a dozen are waiting in line for the librarian to help them in their reference
work or to charge books for home use. We hear her say, "You read Howells' Heroines of
Fiction and enjoyed it. Why not read Pride and Prejudice now to see whether you agree
with Mr. Howells?" We wonder how she remembers the individuals in such a throng, but
that she does is one of the secrets of the success of our library (p. 87).
Keyes' comments reflect an appreciation of the librarian's instructional role as well as her
knowledge of the curriculum. Keyes called the library the "meeting-place of all currents of
school thought" (p. 87) and likened the library to a laboratory in which students "perform


Achterman, Douglas L. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. Accessed May 5, 2015.