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

Historically, school libraries have been seen as a key to fostering the beneficial
connection between access to print materials and the amount students read (Ahern, 1905; Miner,
1905; Keyes, 1914; ALA, 1925; Heller & Labrant, 1938; Cecil & Heaps, 1940). Gaver (1962)
found that elementary school children who have ongoing access to good school library
collections and adequate, qualified library staff generally read two to three times as many items
of all formats and genres as those children with access only to classroom collections or
centralized collections with no professional personnel. Gaver also found that among sixth
graders, this result was not affected by socioeconomic status (1963). Squire, Applebee and
Lucas (1967) noted the increasing complexity of high school curriculum and suggested that
expanding the hours school libraries were open was a logical response to students' need for more
and better information. Rutler, et al. (1979, as cited in Bowie, 1984) found in their study of
inner-city London schools that when school libraries stayed open after school, students used the
library more, and that when students used the library more, they did better in school.
Hours Open
Statewide studies in Minnesota (Baxter & Smalley, 2003), Michigan (Rodney, Lance &
Hamilton-Pennell, 2003), and North Carolina (Burgin, Bracy & Brown, 2003) reveal statistically
significant correlations between the number of hours school libraries are open and achievement
on standardized tests in reading and language arts. Michigan exhibited the strongest correlation,
r = .368, at the seventh grade, and this state also showed persistent significant correlations
across elementary, middle school and high school levels. The New Mexico (Lance, Rodney &
Hamilton-Pennell, 2002) and Missouri (Miller, Want & Whitacre, 2003) studies did not yield
statistically significant results at p = .05. Table 1 summarizes these results by grade level and


Achterman, Douglas L. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9800/. Accessed September 4, 2015.