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

included data on school libraries, revealing that elementary school children in the poorer
neighborhoods had access to half as many books in their school libraries, had no school
librarians, and had much more limited physical access to their school libraries when compared to
those children in middle class neighborhoods. Duke (2000) investigated differences in print
environments to children in 20 first grade classrooms from both high and low socioeconomic
status and found that there are substantial differences in the amount, type and uses of print in
those classrooms. One important difference in the descriptions of two typical classrooms was
that the classroom from a high socioeconomic background took advantage of a rotating
collection of books that children selected from the school library to be used in their own
classroom each week.
McQuillan (1998) asserts that while socioeconomic status is a strong indicator of print
access, it is not socioeconomic status that is the barrier to literacy development, since children in
low socioeconomic areas who do have access to print materials and like to read are successful in
school. Given students' propensity to use the school library over the public library (Clabo, 2002;
Krashen, 2004), attention is drawn to the importance of access to the school library and its
resources in addressing educational equity. DeSouza's study (2006) of academic achievement
among Mexican-origin English learners bears out this point. DeSouza discovered that the library
played an important role in his subjects' lives when several students mentioned that library books
were the only reading materials available to them at home, and that access to a variety of books
in English and Spanish helped them continue to develop literacy in both languages. Based on his
own literature review, Bowie (1984) asserts the value of increased access to school libraries and
library materials in helping minority students bridge the achievement gap, noting that the school

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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 March 27, 2015.