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

Voelker (2006) examined the way fourth graders experience and understand literacy
events in a quality school library program. In a series of six case studies, Voelker looked at the
nature of literacy events, the way children use texts during those events, the artifacts produced,
and the role of social interaction in children's interpretations of those events. Although Voelker
was generally critical of library media specialists' approach to literacy, the author nevertheless
reaffirmed the importance of a high quality collection, both professional and clerical staff, and
ample technology to fourth graders' literacy development.
Internationally, two studies in the past 10 years have noted statistically significant
correlations between professional library staffing and students' reading. Using data from a
representative sample of 9 and 14 year-old students from schools that took part in an
international literacy study, Novljan (1998) found that Slovenian students at schools with a
librarian scored significantly higher on a literacy test than students without a school librarian.
An Ontario, Canada (Ontario Library Association 2006) study of third and sixth grade students
from 880 schools, including schools from every district in the province, included reading
assessment scores, responses to a questionnaire about attitudes toward reading, and survey data
about staffing, hours open, budget, and collections from the province's school libraries. The
researchers found that professional library staff was the strongest predictor of reading enjoyment
at both grade levels. Library staffing was associated with an increase in grade 3 reading
performance, and trained library staff was associated with higher reading scores for sixth graders
(Ontario Library Association, 2006).
Support for the positive effects of adequate library staffing can be found in many
statewide studies. Overall library media specialist staffing, including ratio of librarians to pupils,
total hours, or numbers of librarians, represents one of the measures that has most frequently

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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 August 20, 2014.