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HomeLanguage NewsnewsSchool Library Investment ‘Crucial’ to Literacy Success

School Library Investment ‘Crucial’ to Literacy Success

According to a new report (www.americanprogress.org/article/investing-in-school-libraries-and-librarians-to-improve-literacy-outcomes) from the Center for American Progress, “libraries and librarians not only spark a love of learning; they are crucial to reversing low reading assessment scores across the country.”

“Investing in School Libraries and Librarians to Improve Literacy Outcomes” found that “more than 50 years of research across more than 60 studies show that students with access to well-resourced school libraries with certified librarians consistently perform better academically and score higher on standardized assessments. While underserved students see even bigger gains from robust library services, they are less likely to have access to these resources.”

Policy recommendations include:
1. Increase funding for school libraries.
2. Require the presence of school librarians.
3. Require federal school library data updates with appropriate definitions.
4. Include school libraries as school-based indicators in state accountability plans.
The report concludes, “School libraries, and the librarians that run them, offer a haven for students to establish or regain their passion for reading, study in a quiet environment, improve their digital literacy, enhance their research skills, and, in the process, improve in core academic skills. It is time to recognize their crucial role in educating strong and civically engaged students by investing in them and including them in systems of holistic accountability.”

The report also highlights the federal Right to Read Act, introduced in April 2023 by Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) and Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) to increase access to effective school libraries, especially in underserved communities, and to combat censorship. The bill proposes to reauthorize and boost funding for both the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants program at $500 million and the Innovative Approach to Literacy program—the primary federal source of school library funding—at $100 million. Previously, the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants program was funded at $194 million for fiscal year 2023 and the Innovative Approach to Literacy Program was funded at $30 million in 2023. In addition to providing increased funding for school libraries, the act would codify official school library definitions in order to improve data collection standards.

According to the report, “This bill is a step in the right direction to expand federal investments in school libraries, but it is not a replacement for state and local funding.”

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