News Release: Research Supports School Librarians’ Impact on Student Learning

Research Supports School Librarians’ Impact on Student Learning

June 5, 2014

Changes in Oregon law and other trends point to the necessity of licensed school librarians and their positive impact on student learning. The passage of the Strong School Libraries Act, or Oregon House Bill 2586, means that school districts are required to account for “strong school library programs” in the continuous improvement plans (CIP) that they must submit to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). A school district must show in its plan that it provides all students and staff in each school equitable access to:


A comprehensive library program which provides instruction in information literacy and research proficiencies, promotes integration of digital learning resources, advances reading engagement, and creates collaborative learning opportunities with teachers.

A professionally-developed and well-managed school library collection of current and diverse print and electronic resources that supports teaching and learning, college and career readiness, and reading engagement.


Licensed school librarians, sometimes referred to as library media specialists or teacher librarians, positively impact student reading, writing, and information literacy skills in K-12 education. Yet, their numbers have dropped at an alarming rate.


Data collected by the Oregon State Library in Salem show that the number of licensed school librarians in Oregon has dropped from 818 full-time equivalent in 1980 to only 144 in 2013. That is an 82% decrease. Conversely, the number of students per librarian has increased significantly. In 1980 there was one librarian per 547 students compared with almost 4,000 students per librarian in 2013. As a result, some students may never come in contact with a licensed school librarian during their K-12 years.


The sizeable drop in numbers runs counter to the impact of school librarians on learning. Numerous impact studies point to increased reading and writing test scores when a full-time licensed librarian is employed in schools. A 2012 report entitled Creating 21st Century Learners: A Report on Pennsylvania’s Schools found that both reading and writing test scores increase significantly when a full-time licensed librarian is employed at a school. Furthermore, students at a school with a full-time licensed librarian are nearly three times as likely to score an advanced score on the state’s standardized writing test. An Oregon study, Good Schools Have School Librarians, found that if staffing, collections, and funding of library media programs grow, reading scores rise.


As school districts recover from lean budget years, they will need to respond to the Strong School Libraries Act by strengthening their school library programs. In response to the need for more instructional support with the new Common Core Standards, some districts in Oregon are currently bringing back school librarian positions. Medford School District in southern Oregon recently posted three job openings for licensed school librarians. More positive changes like this one are needed in all areas of our state.


Ultimately, this issue has to be addressed locally. Community members and parents can play a role in this trend by working with school districts to raise awareness of the importance of strong school libraries. Specifically, they can ask questions about the staffing and programming in their child’s school library. For example, are the students in your neighborhood school served by a licensed school librarian? What information literacy and research instruction is your child receiving? Ask to review your school district’s response to the CIP. Does the library section match the program you know exists?
For more information about how you can get involved, contact Nancy Sullivan, Oregon Association of School Libraries President, at or Penny Hummel, Oregon Library Association President, at, or consult the OASL webpage on this topic (


A Bibliography of Sources related to IL’s impact

by Tina Weyland, Kirsten Hostetler, & Tina Hovekamp

An overview of IL assessment efforts:

Oakleaf, M. J., Association of College and Research Libraries., & American Library Association. (2010). The value of academic libraries: A comprehensive research review and report. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association.  This review and report is intended to provide Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) leaders and the academic community with 1) a clear view of the current state of the literature on value of libraries within an institutional context, 2) suggestions for immediate “Next Steps” in the demonstration of academic library value, and 3) a “Research Agenda” for articulating academic library value.

Information Literacy Assessment Tools:

Blevens, C.L.  (2012).  Catching up with information literacy assessmentResources for program evaluation. College and Research Libraries, 72(2), 128-149. 

In an article that appeared in the November 2010, issue of C&RL News, Jennifer Jarson provided links to several [assessment tools].The goal of this article is to build on the assessment links Jarson provided. Her stated goal was to “guide readers to important resources for understanding information literacy and to provide tools for readers to advocate for information literacy’s place in higher education curricula.” In addition to the information on resources and tools, Jarson provided links to universities whose assessment tools were available for review on their Web sites. For this article, selected Web sites have been accessed and evaluated further. A handful of additional information resources have been profiled, including new Web sites that offer a variety of assessment tool formats.

List of sources addressing the effects of Information Literacy efforts:

Bell, S.J. (September, 2008). Keeping them enrolled: How academic libraries contribute to student retention. Library Issues: Briefings for Faculty and Administrators, 29(1), 1-4. 

The article focuses on the challenge for academic library administrators to contribute to student retention. It says that academic administrators are struggling hard to understand the factors affecting students’ retention on academic institutions. Accordingly, students’ decision to leave the college before graduation is influenced by a member of the faculty, another student or an advisor. Furthermore, academic libraries could potentially have an impact on student retention if a strong linkage between libraries and student retention can be made. The research found that libraries contribute to student retention. The plans on how libraries can create an impact on student retention are discussed.

Bowles-Terry, Melissa (2012).  Library instruction and academic success: A mixed-methods assessment of a library instruction program. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 7(1).  

Library instruction seems to make the most difference to student success when it is repeated at different levels in the university curriculum, especially when it is offered in upper-level courses. Instruction librarians should differentiate between lower-division and upper-division learning objectives for students in order to create a more cohesive and non-repetitive information literacy curriculum.

Cook, Jean Marie (2014). A library credit course and student success rates: A longitudinal study. College and Research Libraries. (Anticipated Publication date: May 1, 2014). 

The University of West Georgia’s Ingram Library has offered a fifteen-week two-hour credit course since 1998. In a longitudinal study covering twelve years, the library analyzed the progression and graduation rates of over fifteen thousand students. Students who took the class during their undergraduate career were found to graduate at much higher rates than students who never took the class. The library examined students’ high school GPAs and aptitude test scores but were unable to account for the increase through any difference in pre-collegiate achievement.

Daugherty, Russo (2011). An assessment of the lasting effects of a stand-alone information literacy course: The students’ perspective. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37 (4), 319-326.

The authors wished to measure the degree to which a library information literacy course establishes a foundation for life-long learning. A web-based survey was administered to 2147 currently-matriculating Louisiana State University students who had taken the one-credit information literacy course, Library and Information Science (LIS) 1001 (Research Methods and Materials). Though the response rate was relatively low, the survey revealed clear evidence that students continue to use the materials and skills taught in the course throughout their college careers for both course work and personal research.

Emmons, M., & Wilkinson, F. C. (2011). The academic library impact on student persistence. College and Research Libraries, 72(2), 128-149.  

What impact does the academic library have on student persistence? This study explores the relationship between traditional library input and output measures of staff, collections, use, and services with fall-to-fall retention and six-year graduation rates at Association of Research Libraries member libraries. When controlling for race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, a linear regression finds that a change in the ratio of library professional staff to students predicts a statistically significant positive relationship with both retention and graduation rates.

Fain, Margaret. (2011). Assessing information literacy skills development in first year students: A multi-year study. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(2), 109-119.

Assessment data from 5 years of a pretest/posttest with first-year students was analyzed using McNemar’s test. The results show that revisiting previous assessment data can identify significant changes in information literacy skill development.

Gross, Latham (2013). Addressing below proficient information literacy skills: Evaluating the efficacy of an evidence-based educational intervention, Library & Information Science Research, 35(3), 181-190.

Over the course of three years, an educational intervention was developed to teach information literacy (IL) skills, change perceptions of IL, and to recalibrate self views of the abilities of first year college students who demonstrate below proficient information literacy skills. The intervention is a modular workshop designed around the three-step analyze, search, evaluate (ASE) model of information literacy, which is easy to remember, easy to adapt to multiple instructional situations, and can provide a foundation for building information literacy skills. Summative evaluation of the intervention demonstrates that students who attend the workshop see an increase in skills and awareness of information literacy as a skill set. Increases in skills, however, were not sufficient to move participants into the proficient range. While workshop participants were able to reassess preworkshop skills, skills gained in the workshop did not result in recalibrated self-views of ability. Like the development of skills, the recalibration of self-assessments may require multiple exposures to information literacy instruction.

Haddow, G. (2013). Academic library use and student retention: A quantitative analysis. Library & Information Science Research, 35(2), 127-136.

A key component of Vincent Tinto’s model of retention is the importance of student integration in the academic institution. Library use can be regarded as a form of integration within such institutions. A quantitative approach was applied to demonstrate how institutional data can be combined to examine library use and retention at a single institution.

Hernon, P., Dugan, R.E. (2002). Developing an assessment plan for measuring student learning outcomes. In An Action Plan for Outcomes Assessment in Your Library (pp. 29-42). Chicago, IL: ALA.

This article summarizes best practices on how to establish an assessment program in an academic library using ACRL standards and the Mildred F. Sawyer Library at Suffolk University as a case study.

Hsieh, Ma Lei, Dawson, Patricia H., Carlin, Michael T. (2013). What five minutes in the classroom can do to uncover the basic information literacy skills of your college students: A multiyear assessment study. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 8(3), 34-57.

Librarians at Rider University attempted to discern the basic information literacy (IL) skills of students over a two year period (2009-2011). This study aims to explore the impact of one-session information literacy instruction on student acquisition of the information literacy skills of identifying information and accessing information using a pretest/post-test design at a single institution… The results defy a common assumption that students’ levels of IL proficiency correlate with their class years and the frequency of prior ILI in college. These findings fill a gap in the literature by supporting the anecdote that students do not retain or transfer their IL skills in the long term. The results raise an important question as to what can be done to help students more effectively learn and retain IL in college. The authors offer strategies to improve instruction and assessment, including experimenting with different pedagogies and creating different post-tests for spring 2012.

Hufford, J.R. (2013). A Review of the literature on assessment in academic and research libraries, 2005 to August 2011. Libraries and the Academy, 13(1), 5-35.

A review of the literature following a 2005 report from Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Important findings include: research/citation workshops at the University of Albany resulted in significantly improved understandings of the research process and reductions in plagiarism; semester-long collaborations between the library and biology departments at Indiana University showed student improvements in information literacy skills; further testing at IU showed a significant discrepancy between students’ options, self-assessments, and graded tests.

Hurst, Susan (Spring, 2007). Garbage in, Garbage out: The effect of library instruction on the quality of students’ term papers. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, 8(1). 

The authors report the results of a study which used citation analysis of students’ term papers to determine the effectiveness of a library instruction session.  The research was conducted during the 2004-2005 school year.  In each semester, two sections of the same class received a library instruction session, while the third section of the class did not.  Bibliographies of the students’ term papers were then examined to determine if the numbers and types of sources cited differed between the two groups.  Library instruction was determined to be effective, in that students receiving library instruction were significantly more likely to cite journal articles and other scholarly resources than those students not receiving the library instruction.

Julien, H., & Boon, S. (2004). Assessing instructional outcomes in Canadian academic libraries. Library & Information Science Research, 26(2), 121-139.

This article reports on a three-year study of information literacy instruction in Canadian academic libraries, focusing on the outcomes of instruction in terms of tests of information literacy skills and interviews with students that explored their experiences of information literacy instruction. Particular emphasis is given to investigating instructional effectiveness and assessing learning outcomes with respect to identifying those institutional and pedagogical factors that promote successful outcomes. Outcomes of instruction include positive cognitive, behavioral, and affective results. Further discussion explores how instruction contributed to students’ overall educational success and which factors characterize “success” in achieving those outcomes from the viewpoints of instructional librarians and from the perspectives of clients (i.e., students). These data provide a basis on which to advance instruction toward identifiable, positive outcomes for students in postsecondary institutions. An emphasis on such outcomes is essential if librarians are to justify devoting institutional resources to instructional activities.

Kirk, Jason, Vance, Rachel, Gardner, Justin (2012). Measuring the impact of library instruction on freshman success and persistence. Communications in Information Literacy, 6(1), 49-58.

This study examines the relationship between formal library instruction and undergraduate student performance and persistence in higher education. Researchers analyzed two years of academic and demographic data collected from first-time freshmen at Middle Tennessee State University in an attempt to quantify the effect of librarian-led one-shot classroom instruction on students’ grade point averages and their likelihood of returning to school for the sophomore year.

Lacy, M., & Chen, H. (2013). Rethinking library instruction: using learning-outcome based design to teach online search strategies. Journal of Information Literacy, 7(2), 126-148. 

Survey of 59 student respondents who participated in an outcomes-based one-shot instruction session. Researchers wanted to know if demographic information influenced student responses. No significant relationship was found between participants rating of their search experience and individual characteristics. There was a demonstrated relationship between student experience with the campus library and the formulation of search queries and the number of search queries employed. “These findings suggest the importance of students’ exposure to the library – both in terms of the library as a place and as a resource. The question of how to provide this exposure, when students seldom seek it, remains a major challenge for academic librarians.”

Maughan, P.D. (2001). Assessing information literacy among undergraduates: A discussion of the literature and the University of California–Berkeley assessment experience. College & Research Libraries, 62, 71-85.  

A series of surveys distributed to graduating seniors over the course of five years. The resounding conclusion from these surveys was that “students’ perceptions about their ability to gain access to information and conduct research exceeded their actual ability to do so.”

Mery, Yvonne, Newby, Jill, & Peng, Ke (2012). Performance-based assessment in an online course: Comparing different types of information literacy instruction. Libraries & the Academy, 12(3), 283-298.

This study investigates whether the type of instruction (a single face-to-face librarian-led instruction, instructor-led instruction, or an online IL course–the Online Research Lab) has an impact on student information literacy gains in a Freshman English Composition program. A performance-based assessment was carried out by analyzing bibliographies in a required controversy paper. Descriptive, correlation, and regression analysis showed that the type of instruction did impact the quality of the bibliographies. Students in the online IL course had higher quality bibliographies than those students who received a one-session face-to-face instruction.

Needham, G., Nurse, R., Parker, J., Scantlebury, N., & Dick, S. (2013). Can an excellent distance learning library service support student retention and how can we find out? Open Learning, 28(2), 135-140.

This paper outlines the efforts of staff at The Open University Library to embed their services and resources into the learning experience of their distance learners, and to aspire to find ways of demonstrating their contribution to student retention and achievement. While there is huge potential in the amount and range of data available, the challenge is to identify an appropriate model that allows The Open University Library to demonstrate how Library Services impacts on student retention, attainment and achievement.

Nelson Laird, T.F., & Kuh, G.D. (2005). Student experiences with information technology and their relationship to other aspects of student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46(2), 211-233.  

Using data from the 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement, researchers found that participation in information and library-related activities (e.g.,  using the library website to find academic resources, asking librarians for help, etc.) were positively correlated with student engagement in other areas that the researchers labeled as “active and collaborative learning” (e.g., working with other students on class projects, working with other students outside of class, etc.), “student-faculty interactions” (e.g., discussing grades or assignments with faculty, talking about career plans with faculty, etc.), and “academic challenges” (e.g., working harder than students thought they could to meet an instructor’s standards, preparing two or more drafts of a paper before turning it in, etc.)

Orme, W.A. (2004). A study of the residual impact of the Texas Information Literacy Tutorial on the information-seeking ability of first-year college students. College & Research Libraries, 65(3), 205-215.  

A study on four groups of first-year students, each group receiving a different type of information literacy instruction. Results showed that online tutorials were just as effective as face-to-face instruction and could be used in larger-scale orientation sessions to avoid tapping limited library resources.

Pagowsky, N., & Hammond, J. (November 01, 2012). A programmatic approach: Systematically tying the library to student retention efforts on campus. College and Research Libraries News, 73(10), 582.  

The article discusses some opportunities which show how institutional initiatives can be leveraged for improving library impact on student persistence and retention in the U.S. The Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) in Connecticut has imposed a mandatory library instruction sessions which gave its library staff the opportunity to assess the information literacy of new students. Improvement in student retention was identified by the Arizona Board of Regents as an important metric for state funding, with an objective to improve freshmenretention and increasing the six-year graduation rates.

Samson, Sue (2010). Information literacy learning outcomes and student success. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36 (3), 202-210.

Information literacy learning outcomes of randomly selected first-year and capstone students were analyzed using an assessment instrument based on the ACRL competency standards. Statistically significant differences between student populations in the selective and relative use of information inform the library instruction program and apply to research and teaching libraries.

Seeber, K.P. (2013). Using assessment results to reinforce campus partnerships. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 20, 352-365.

In response to calls for accountability, academic libraries have increased their assessment efforts. Although the University Library at Colorado State University–Pueblo has been engaged in student learning outcome assessment for several years, it has recently expanded its system of evaluation to share the results of information literacy assessments with teaching faculty. This was done in an effort to demonstrate the value of library instruction to the faculty of a small, regional campus. Several benefits have been realized as a result of this move, including stronger partnerships with course instructors and other departments engaged in academic support.

Sheret, L., & Steele, J.A. (2013). Information literacy assessment: Keep it simple, keep it going. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(3), 208-215.

Survey of IL skills at Western State Colorado University showed a noticeable positive effect on student learning outcomes who received embedded instruction from librarians and revealed a cumulative benefit from exposing students to IL skills in any format in a variety of classes form year-to-year.

Soria, K.M., Fransen, J., & Nackerud, S. (2013). Library use and undergraduate student outcomes: New evidence for students’ retention and academic success. Libraries and the Academy, 13(2), 147-164.

Pre- and post-term assessments given following successful collaboration between faculty and librarian in developing assignments that promoted IL skills. Post-term assessment revealed that students’ self-rating of their own confidence levels increased from an average of “3” on 5-point Likert scale to “4,” with the biggest increase in confidence related to dealing with government and primary source materials. The increase in confidence in these types of sources correlated with the types of sources used in the students’ bibliographies.

Victor, P., Otto, J., & Mutschler, C. (2013). Assessment of library instruction on undergraduate student success in a documents-based research course: The benefits of librarian, archivist, and faculty collaboration. Collaborative Librarianship, 5(3), 154-176.

An examination of data in the 2011 fall term at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities showed significant differences in cumulative GPA between first-year students who used at least one library service compared to students who didn’t use any, as well as a significant association between library usage and students’ first to second semester retention…Four particular types of library resources were significantly and positively associated with students’ academic achievement: using the library workstations….accessing online databases, accessing electronic journals, and checking out books. Only two library activities were associated with students’ retention: enrollment in the Intro to Library Research Part 2 workshop and use of online databases.

Walsh, John (2013). The effects of targeted, connectivism-based information literacy instruction on Latino students information literacy skills and library usage behavior, University of Arizona.

This dissertation assessed the effect of the instruction on IL skills and library usage behavior of Latino community college students; found that “instructional efforts of the library are influencing student learning outcomes.”

Wang, Rui (2006). The lasting impact of a library credit course. portal: Libraries and the Academy 6(1), 79-92.

This study found that there were statistically significant differences in citation use and grades between students who took a library credit course and students who did not. The results of independent samples t-tests indicated that the student group that took a library credit course cited more scholarly resources, produced fewer incomplete citations, and received higher grades for its papers and courses. The data included 836 citations produced by 120 student papers and the students’ grades for their papers and courses in the fall of 2004. Additionally, the survey results revealed that the students’ acquisition of bibliographic research and citation skills was directly attributable to the library credit course, whereas their counterparts tended to rely on informal sources. The evidence supports the lasting impact of a library credit course on student learning.

Wong, Shun Han Rebekah, &Cmor, Dianne (2011). Measuring association between library instruction and graduation GPA. College and Research Libraries, 72, 464-473.  

Academic libraries devote considerable human resources in delivering library instruction programs. This study attempts to determine if these instructional efforts have any measurable effect on student performance in terms of overall grades. Library workshop attendance and graduation GPA of over 8,000 students was analyzed at Hong Kong Baptist University. It was found that, if more than one or two library workshops were offered to students within the course of their program, there was a higher tendency of workshop attendance having a positive impact on final GPA. The results indicate that library instruction has a direct correlation with student performance, but only if a certain minimum amount of instruction is provided.

Jamieson on reading comprehension and research

Sara Jameson from Oregon State University shared this link with the OWEAC list and I think some ILAGO members will also find it interesting: Sara uses Sandra Jamieson’s work with WR 121 instructors at OSU as a way to delve deeper into students’ struggles with reading comprehension and research.  

Thank you to Sara for sharing.

Restoring Contemplation (link to a new report on the value of disconnecting in the knowledge economy)

Subject: New report “Restoring Contemplation: How Disconnecting Bolsters the Knowledge Economy”

Jennifer Maurer contributed these comments to the Oregon Association of School Libraries listserv:

I highly recommend reading this informative and thought-provoking 9-page report by Jessie L. Mannisto on the importance of making time to process and reflect on information and the role libraries can play in encouraging that.

I started to pull out some excerpts to share, but the article is so information dense that I found myself copying and pasting bits from every other paragraph. Instead, I will say that I believe that library staff and other educators should consider the research and take appropriate action. For example, maybe help organize Disconnected Day when students and staff avoid distractions from digital devices. Or, you could ask for time to discuss the report with your principal, campus improvement team, PTA, etc. Those who emphasize critical thinking or meta-cognition skills with students (and those who don’t) can stress why it’s important to take time to process information and not just gather it. You can encourage teachers who assign research projects to build in more time for processing information or to emphasize that piece. Because, as Ms. Mannisto points out, “At its core, the distinction between gathering and processing is an issue of information literacy.”

 Article below from ALA District Dispatch:

Report from Office for Information Technology Policy:

Jennifer Maurer is the School Library Consultant for the Oregon State Library.


New AP courses to emphasize critical thinking and research

Contributed by Tina  Hovekamp.

Visit Education Week to read about new AP courses designed to emphasize critical thinking and research skills. This is wonderful news for our high schools.  I am wondering how involved school librarians in our state are in the design and delivery of such an AP course.  Thought I should pass along the news in case you have not seen it.  I already wrote to our school Superintendent in support of such course offering at our local high schools.  He thinks that this course may first address the needs of our IB program.   I wrote back asking him to consider that such a course is sorely needed by all students beyond the IB program level.  Little by little progress is made….

Tina M. Hovekamp, Ph.D. , Professor
Associate College Librarian, Information & Access Services
Barber Library
Central Oregon Community College, Bend Oregon

Instruction idea for teaching research using Daniel Russell’s blog

Subject: resource for writing faculty and others who teach research.

Contributed by Bryan Miyagishima:
I’d like to recommend a resource I came across the other day. It is a blog by a fellow named Daniel M. Russell, who works for Google studying ways that people search and research – in other words, he is a self-described “anthropologist of search.” His blog is available at .

Every other day or so he puts out a new research challenge question, asking readers to come up with the answer to some onerous research problem and post their answer and search strategy. While these problems are meant to be solved by using some Google tool or another, the problems cannot be solved by just doing a random Google keyword search. In other words, one has to be quite deliberate about creating a search strategy incorporating several layers of research in order to find an answer. I think the questions and search strategies would make for an excellent 5 minute discussion at the beginning of a class session. It would also make for an excellent discussion about what other research tools (like those available at the library or on the library website) could be used to find the answer.

While I realize that this type of site seems to push the use of Google to the detriment of all other research tools, it’s one that I as a librarian am willing to risk. The main use of this blog as an instructional tool is that it compels students to come up with the right questions in order to solve a problem; this is an extremely valuable skill that is quite difficult to teach. 

                                        Bryan Miyagishima is an Instruction Librarian
                                        at Linn-Benton Community College in Oregon.