2. Study Highlights

2.1 Objectives and Methodology

The study had three objectives. (1) Examine school library resources, services, and use on the basis of the School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas and determine the need for updating these standards and guidelines so that they better serve communities across the State. (2) Determine the impact that school libraries have on student performance. (3) Highlight library practices in the best performing schools.

The questionnaire designed for this study inquired into library staffing, activities performed and time devoted to each activity, hours of operation, type and size of collection, library usage, library technology resources, school technology with access to library resources, and library funding. Data was collected from a random sample of 600 school libraries, which according to the 1999-00 Texas Education Agency's Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), reported a school librarian on staff. The sample, proportional to the universe of school libraries in Texas, consisted of 327 elementary schools, 120 middle/junior high schools, 139 high schools, and 14 elementary/secondary schools. Data were collected through a self-administered mail survey during September-November 2000. Responses were obtained from 503 libraries, yielding an 84 percent response rate. Data from 500 responding libraries were used in the analyses. These consisted of 267 elementary school libraries, 104 middle/junior high school libraries, and 129 high school libraries.

Survey data were supplemented with secondary data available from the 1999-00 Texas Education Agency’s Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) on school characteristics and student TAAS performance. Survey data were also supplemented with community economic data extracted from the Federal Reserve Boards’ Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) web site. TAAS and student demographic data were also provided by PEIMS on all schools without a librarian.

2.2 Libraries and School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), in consultation with the State Board of Education, adopted standards for school library services. The Texas Education Code 33.021 sets forth that "A school district shall consider the standards in developing, implementing, or expanding library services." The School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas address five components:

  • Library program management
  • Library learning environment
  • Curriculum integration
  • Resources
  • Facilities

The standards and guidelines are applied at four levels: exemplary, recognized, acceptable, and below standard.

School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas are available in electronic format at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/schoollibs/index.html

Library Funding

Texas school libraries are underfunded based on the Public School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas.

The standards and guidelines recommend that schools allocate annually no less than one to three percent of their instructional budget "to acquire library materials, equipment and supplies in support of school library program." The standards and guidelines recommend that "acceptable" libraries have no less than one percent of the instructional budget and that "exemplary" libraries have no less than three percent of the school’s instructional budget. On average, libraries’ budget for 1999-00 ranged between 0.5 percent (elementary and middle/junior high school libraries) and 0.8 percent (high school libraries) of the school’s instructional budget.

The average elementary school library’s operating budget in 1999-00 was $12,529; 75 percent of it was funded from local tax dollars. Middle/Junior high school libraries operating budget was $16,144.67; 69 percent of it was funded from school resources. High school libraries’ operating budget was $27,174.66; 83 percent of it was funded from school sources. On a per student basis, library’s operating budget funded from school sources ranged from $16.45 to $26.69. Taking into account all funding sources, libraries' mean operating budget per student ranged from $22.14 to $31.45.

Table I.1 School Library 1999-00 Operating Budget
Operating Budget


(1999-00)
Elementary School Libraries Middle/Junior High Libraries High School Libraries
Funded by school $9,371.06 74.8% $11,095.13 68.7% $22,625.68 83.3%
Funded from other sources $3,159.16 25.2% $5,050.54 31.3% $4,557.78 16.7%
Total budget $12,529.47 100.0% $16,144.67 100.0% $27,174.66 100.0%
Library operating budget per student (school funded) $16.45 $16.64 $26.69
Library operating budget per student (all funding sources) $22.14 $24.26 $31.45

Libraries’ operating budget is strongly associated with libraries’ collection size, the current status of the collection, and libraries’ staffing resources. Libraries with larger operating budgets have larger and more current collections and more staffing resources to support student needs.

Library Staffing

Public School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas recommend a graduated staffing structure for school libraries based on the size of the student population which includes certified librarians and paraprofessionals. Based on the standards and guidelines, Texas school libraries with more than 350 students are generally understaffed. Elementary and middle/junior high school libraries of all sizes typically have one librarian and a part-time aide. Between 36 and 38 percent of the elementary and middle/junior high school libraries have only one staff member. High school libraries typically have one full-time librarian, one part-time librarian and about one full-time aide. However, nearly one-quarter of high school libraries have only one staff member..

Table I.2 School Library Staffing
Staffing Elementary School Libraries Middle/Junior High School Libraries High School Libraries
Number of libraries mean 1.01 1.05 1.40
Number of library aides mean 0.67 0.71 0.98
Number of library staff mean 1.68 1.76 2.36
Percent of libraries with one staff 38.5% 35.9% 22.5%
Percent of libraries with two staff 55.8% 52.4% 39.5%
Percent of libraries with three or more staff 5.7% 11.6% 38.0%
Librarian person hours per week (mean) 38.8 40.2 53.9
Library aide(s) person hours per week (mean) 22.7 25.0 35.5
Library staff person hours per week (mean) 61.5 65.2 89.5

Lower than recommended staffing levels and especially the absence of library aides significantly curtail the range and type of services that librarians can provide. In libraries staffed by both a librarian and an aide, librarians are more likely to offer services identified in the standards and guidelines as high priority. These high priority services consist of collaboratively planning and teaching with teachers, providing staff development to teachers, facilitating information skills instruction, managing technology, communicating with school administrators, and providing reading incentive activities. Furthermore, the number of librarians and librarian hours of service (per 100 students) significantly impact library use. Libraries with higher librarian staffing levels and hours accommodate greater use of the library and its resources and allow more students to visit the library and enable more materials to be checked out. Library staffing levels represent the value that schools attach to libraries. Libraries that are more adequately staffed also have larger and more current collections and larger technology and financial resources.

Library Services

Library staff are expected to provide a wide range of services. Library staff spend the following average percentages of their time performing the named activities during a typical week.

  • Basic Library Activities, such as checking materials, shelving, processing and retrieving: 43 percent in elementary school libraries to 46 percent in high school libraries.
  • Administration: 21 percent to 24 percent.
  • Information Access and Delivery: 17 percent in high school and middle/junior high school libraries to 24 percent in elementary school libraries.
  • Teaching and Staff Training: 12 to 16 percent.

The School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas recommend that librarians engage in collaborative curriculum related integration. The following percentage of librarians report engaging in these activities.

  • Staff Development to Teachers and Other School Staff: 60 percent.
  • Teach Cooperatively with Teachers: 67 to 75 percent.
  • Participate on Curriculum Committees: 75 to 83 percent.
  • Plan Instructional Units with Teachers: 80 percent.

Librarians who do engage in collaborative activities spend on average between 9.9 and 14.9 percent of their time in collaborative activities per week. Library staff spend the following percentages of their time in collaborative activities, on average.

  • Staff Development to Teachers and Other School Staff: 1.1 to 1.5 percent.
  • Participate on curriculum and Other Committees: 1.4 to 2.3 percent.
  • Planning Instructional Units with Teachers: 2.3 to 3.1 percent.
  • Teaching Cooperatively with Teachers: 5.1 to 8.0 percent of time.

The following table shows selected library staff services, the percent of libraries providing these services; average number of hours per week each service is provided, and the average percent of time per week library staff engage in each service.

Table I.3 School Library Services
Staff Services Elementary School Libraries Middle/Junior High School Libraries High School Libraries
% Librar- ies Hours per Week % Hours per Week % Librar- ies Hours per Week % Hours per Week % Librar- ies Hours per Week % Hours per Week
Plan instructional units with teachers 78.6% 1.45 2.5% 81.7% 1.86 3.1% 81.4% 1.87 2.3%
Teach cooperatively with teachers 67.4% 2.94 5.1% 74.0% 4.73 8.0% 75.2% 5.96 7.2%
Provide staff development to teachers or other school staff 60.3% 0.63 1.1% 61.5% 0.92 1.5% 59.7% 0.94 1.1%
Meet with building or district curriculum committees 83.1% 1.12 1.9% 77.9% 1.37 2.3% 75.2% 1.13 1.4%
Assist teachers to access or utilize state initiative information 47.6% 0.94 1.6% 41.3% 0.87 1.5% 36.4% 0.99 1.2%
Identify materials for instructional units developed by teachers 92.1% 2.79 4.8% 88.5% 3.26 5.5% 93.0% 4.83 5.9%
Provide information skills instruction 83.5% 4.21 7.2% 81.7% 4.25 7.2% 87.6% 7.23 8.8%
Provide reading incentive activities 97.4% 7.17 12.3% 76.0% 2.91 4.9% 64.3% 1.82 2.2%
Manage library technology 88.4% 5.16 8.9% 88.5% 6.76 11.4% 93.0% 13.46 16.4%
Administer electronic reading programs 62.9% 3.48 6.0% 62.5% 3.91 6.6% 30.2% 2.08 2.5%
Manage inter-library loans 50.6% 0.55 0.9% 44.2% 0.41 0.7% 51.2% 0.76 0.9%
Meet with building and district library staff 75.6% 0.82 1.4% 72.1% 0.82 1.4% 72.1% 1.20 1.5%
Meet with library staff outside the district 26.6% 0.32 0.5% 28.8% 0.31 0.5% 42.6% 0.44 0.5%
Meet with principal or other building or district administrators 80.9% 0.77 1.3% 70.2% 0.68 1.1% 81.4% 0.89 1.1%
Attend faculty or staff meetings 91.4% 1.00 1.7% 88.5% 0.84 1.4% 89.1% 0.91 1.1%

Library Resources

As recommended by the School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas, libraries have diversified collections of print and non-print materials. Libraries are expanding their non-print collection from video to CD ROM and to Internet-based sources.

Seventy-seven percent of elementary school libraries, 93 percent of middle/junior high school libraries and 74 percent of high school libraries have collection development policies. Between 50 and 55 percent of the libraries participate in a program to evaluate print and non-print resources. Such a program is typically staffed by librarians and teachers who meet periodically and evaluate new materials.

Libraries’ collections most typically (90 percent or more of libraries) consist of print volumes, newspapers and magazines, and video materials. The following percentage of libraries include these technology-based collections.

  • Encyclopedias and Reference Titles on CD ROM or Laser Discs: 80 to 86 percent.
  • Computer Software Packages: 56 to 64 percent.
  • Electronic, Internet-based, Subscriptions: 43 to 53 percent.

Approximately 75 percent of libraries in Texas belong to the Texas Library Connection, a statewide technology resource sharing initiative. Participating libraries have access to the Gale Group databases and Encyclopedia Britannica. The percent of libraries subscribing to additional online licensed services is currently still small, especially at the elementary and middle/junior high school levels.

A wide-range of technology resources are available to Texas school libraries. Most libraries (97 to 99 percent) have computers. On average, elementary school libraries have 10 computers; middle/junior high school libraries have 16 computers; high school libraries have 20 computers. Most libraries have computers that are connected to the Internet (92 to 95 percent). Most libraries have computers with CD ROM drives (94 to 95 percent). Additionally, the following percentages of Texas school libraries offer technologies which extend electronic resources beyond their physical facilities.

  • Remote Access to the Library Catalog: 87 to 88.5 percent.
  • Remote Access to the Libraries’ Subscription Databases: 81 to 84.5 percent.
  • Computers with Modems that Enable Staff and Students to Access Web-based Resources and Use Electronic Mail: 68 to 73 percent.

Library resources in 65 to 70 percent of the schools can also be accessed from computers in classrooms, offices, and other school locations, thereby expanding the reach of the library beyond its physical location. On average, networked library resources may be accessed in elementary schools through 62 computers; 97 computers can do so in middle/junior high schools; and 159 computers in high schools.

Libraries are also able to expand their collections by accessing Internet resources as well as engaging in inter-library loans. Between 42 and 60 percent of the libraries loan to and borrow materials from other libraries in the district. Fewer than 10 percent of the libraries loan or borrow materials from libraries outside the district. Typically, inter-library borrowing or loans involve five or fewer items per week.

Facilities: Hours of Operation

Seventy to 83 percent of the libraries offer access to their resources beyond the instructional day, as recommended by the School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines. These libraries are open, on average, between two and three hours a week before school and between 2.7 and 3.9 hours a week after school hours. Libraries with larger operating budgets and more diverse collections are likely to be open longer hours. Longer hours of operation are associated with greater library use, as reflected by the number of visits to the library and the volume of materials checked out.

Conclusions

A review of library resources, operations, and services relative to the School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas reveals:

  1. Significant gaps between recommended library funding levels and actual funding levels.
  2. Significant gaps between recommended staffing levels and actual staffing levels.
  3. The great extent to which library staff currently engage in delivering basic library services, and the minor extent to which they currently engage in collaborative (curriculum integration) activities recommended by the school library standards and outlined in the State Board of Educator Certification Standards for School Librarians Certificate and Certificate Renewal Requirements.
  4. The growing presence of technology resources in the library and in the school with access to networked library resources.
  5. The increase in electronic, Internet-based, materials that can both replace and supplement print materials; thereby altering the definitions of "current" information and collection size.
  6. The expansion of access to library (electronic) resources from the physical library, to the school and to the home of students and teachers.

2.3 Indicators of Library Performance

The study employed more than 200 variables in examining the relationship between libraries and TAAS performance. Among the large number of variables examined, 34 were identified through statistical techniques as significant indicators of library performance. Statistical techniques were also used to group these variables. Variables were grouped into five areas, representing library performance factors.

  • Program development:
    • Number of staff per 100 students
    • Staff hours per 100 students
    • Library’s hours of operation per 100 students
    • Print volumes per student
    • Current newspaper and magazine subscriptions per 100 students
    • Video materials per 100 students
    • Software packages for in-library use per 100 students
    • Volumes purchased in 1999-00
    • Library’s operational expenditures per student
  • Leadership: staff involvement with administrators, teachers, and colleagues (hours per week):
    • Meeting with principal and administrators
    • Serving on curriculum committees
    • Meeting with library staff in district
    • Meeting with library staff outside the district
    • Attending faculty meetings
  • Collaboration through teaching (hours per week):
    • Planning instructional units with teachers
    • Teaching cooperatively with teachers
    • Providing training (staff development) to teachers
    • Assisting teachers in accessing and using information about state funded reading programs
    • Identifying materials for instructional units developed by teachers
    • Teaching information literacy to students
  • Library technology - computers in or under library supervision (per 100 students):
    • Total number of computers
    • Computers with Internet connection
    • Computers with access to library catalog
    • Computers with access to library databases
    • Computers with CD ROM drives
    • Computers with networked access to CD ROM resources
    • Computers connected to a modem
  • School technology - school computers with access to networked library resources (per 100 students):
    • Total number of computers
    • Computers with Internet connection
    • Computers with access to library catalog
    • Computers with access to library databases
    • Computers with CD ROM drives
    • Computers with networked access to CD ROM resources
    • Computers connected to a modem.

2.4 Libraries’ Effect on Students' TAAS Performance

Nearly one-quarter of all schools in Texas do not have librarians. At all educational levels over 10 percent more students in schools with librarians than in schools without librarians met minimum TAAS expectations in reading. On average, 89.3 percent of students in schools with librarians compared with 78.4 percent of students without librarians met minimum TAAS expectations. In 2.5 times more schools with librarians (52 percent) than schools without librarians (21 percent), over 90 percent of the students met minimum TAAS expectations. In over one-quarter of the schools without librarians compared with five percent of schools with librarians, 70 percent of less students met minimum TAAS expectations.

Student performance in Texas, similar to findings of studies in other states, is affected, in large part, by socio-economic conditions. Library variables contribute a smaller but not insignificant portion to students’ TAAS performance. The effect of socio-economic conditions on student performance is evident both in schools with and without librarians. Schools without librarians had a large percent of economically disadvantaged students (55 percent) than schools with librarians (49 percent); the former also exhibited lower TAAS performance. In a recent study in Massachusetts, elementary school library books per pupil, presence of a full-time librarian, and automation "explained" 7.5 percent of student performance. At the middle/junior high school level, library variables explained 4.5 percent of performance; and at the high school level, library variables explained 1.5 percent of student performance. Student performance was mostly explained by the percent of students entitled to free lunch. Similarly, in a recent study in Colorado, library staff, collection size, and budget explained 7.5 percent of student performance at the elementary level and 1.6 percent at the secondary level.

In the Texas study, library variables explained four percent of student performance on TAAS reading at the elementary school level, 3.9 percent at the middle/junior high school level, and 8.2 percent at the high school level. Also, library variables were generally more important to explaining the variance in TAAS than school variables such as the number of school computers per student, teacher experience, and teacher turnover ratio. In Texas, as in these other states, student performance was largely explained by socio-economic factors associated with the students and their communities. Among the socio-economic variables, the percent of economically disadvantaged students was the strongest predictor of TAAS performance.

The powerful and highly significant effect of socio-economic factors on students’ performance is further magnified when schools with the highest TAAS performance were compared to schools with the lowest TAAS performance. Elementary schools with the lowest TAAS performance have three times as many economically disadvantaged students; three times as many minority students; more than three times as many students with limited English proficiency; and one-half of the median family income. The lowest performing middle/junior high schools have nearly three times as many economically disadvantaged students; five times as many students with limited English proficiency; four times as many people in poverty in the community; and one-half of the median family income. The lowest performing high schools have nearly three times as many economically disadvantaged students and more than six times as many students with limited English proficiency. These high schools also have four times as many people in poverty in the community; more than three times as many minorities in the community; and two-thirds of the median family income. The libraries in both groups of schools also differ at all levels. The libraries in schools with the highest TAAS performance have more resources than the libraries in the low performing schools and spend more time on collaborative teaching-related (curriculum integration) activities.

TAAS scores by elementary, middle, and high schools.">

Table I.4 25 Highest and 25 Lowest TAAS Performing Schools (Selected Variables)
Comparison Elementary School Middle/Junior High Schools High Schools
Highest TAAS Lowest TAAS Highest TAAS Lowest TAAS Highest TAAS Lowest TAAS
TAAS percent of students who met minimum expectations in reading 99.64 64.53 97.58 77.09 98.72 76.05
Library staff per 100 students .482 .403 .325 .266 .606 .346
Library staff hours per 100 students 11.94 13.92 11.61 9.48 21.26 12.63
Library hours of operation per 100 students 12.21 9.75 8.46 6.97 12.70 8.52
Print volumes per student 20.35 16.47 17.03 12.77 23.99 15.00
Library operating expenditures per student $36.02 $16.52 $30.30 $20.60 $57.47 $23.92
Meet with district library staff .863 .794 0.95 0.68 0.67 1.59
Plan instructional units with teachers 1.29 1.25 2.31 1.76 2.18 1.46
Teach cooperatively with teachers 2.40 1.76 4.34 4.48 4.18 6.54
Computers in library per 100 students 3.91 2.88 2.32 1.80 3.14 2.69
Library computers with access to catalog 2.95 1.40 1.63 1.07 2.16 1.88
Library computers with CD ROM drives per 100 students 3.47 2.59 2.14 1.42 2.77 2.47
School computers per 100 students 16.77 10.26 10.56 9.55 28.98 13.21
School computers with Internet connection per 100 students 12.12 8.83 8.84 8.89 23.73 12.06
School computers with access to library catalog 9.09 4.22 6.54 7.44 21.03 8.23
School computers with access to library databases per 100 students 9.12 5.95 7.91 7.90 22.54 12.05
Percent of economically disadvantaged students 29.10 84.59 21.81 68.30 21.05 59.10
Percent of white students 65.64 11.72 73.92 20.88 75.14 20.10
Percent of Hispanic students 25.48 56.47 16.57 63.84 16.22 57.85
Percent of students with limited English proficiency 11.83 38.40 3.19 19.58 2.24 16.26
Percent minority staff 18.75 56.84 8.63 40.70 10.73 44.49
Percent minority population 25.29 67.19 15.86 60.36 13.76 60.18
Percent of community in poverty 10.73 29.00 6.86 28.40 6.70 26.58
Median family income $74422 $37894 $67026 $36903 $63842 $38220

TAAS performance was associated with different library factors at each educational level. For example, at the elementary school level, TAAS performance was explained by two library factors depicting program development and library technology. The two factors were composed of the following variables:

  • Library volumes purchased in 1999-00 per 100 students
  • Library operational expenditures per student
  • Library computers connected to a modem per 100 students
  • Library software packages per 100 students

At the middle/junior high school level, TAAS performance was explained by an instructionally related factor composed of:

  • Identifying materials for instructional units developed by teachers
  • Providing information skills instruction to individuals or groups

At the high school level, TAAS performance was explained by two library factors depicting program development and collaborative activities. These factors were composed of the following variables:

  • Library staff per 100 students
  • Library staff hours per 100 students
  • Library hours of operation per 100 students
  • Volumes per students
  • Current subscriptions to magazines and newspapers per 100 students
  • Planning instructional units with teachers
  • Providing staff development to teachers

While these library variables, in addition to the socio-economic variables, play a primary role in explaining the variance in TAAS performance, the association between TAAS performance and library resources and activities can not be inferred as a causal relationship solely on the basis of statistical analysis, although a causal relationship is highly plausible. Moreover, the statistical relationship between library resources and activities and students’ TAAS performance may even be underestimated due to the nature of TAAS as a measure of performance. TAAS basically groups all students who meet minimum requirements into a single cluster regardless of the degree to which they meet these requirements. Each student who meets the minimum requirements is given equal weight. In this sense, TAAS offers a "unrefined" measure of performance. In addition, the Texas School Accountability System and the emphasis in the past few years in Texas on reading and TAAS resulted in increased TAAS performance. Consequently, the variance in the percent of students who meet minimum expectations has greatly decreased. For example, only 13 to 16 percent of the schools in our sample had fewer than 80 percent of students meeting minimum expectations on TAAS reading. In 46 to 54 percent of the schools 91 to 100 percent of the students met minimum expectation on TAAS reading. This lack of variance further limits the detection of effects.

The relationship between the library resources and activities identified through the multiple regression analyses as being associated with student performance on TAAS is not a linear relationship, as assumed in previous studies. Treating the relationship between TAAS performance and library resources and activities as linear may be misleading because it may not detect significant changes in variance. The examination of the nonlinear relationship between these library variables and TAAS performance at all educational levels indicates that the variation in TAAS performance is high when these library variables have low values. The variation in TAAS performance decreases as the value of these library variables increases. That is, in low performing schools, libraries have fewer of these resources and devote less time to these activities. High performing schools have more library resources and devote more time to collaborative activities. Furthermore, TAAS results tend to increase and become more consistent, for example, as library staff spend more time in collaborative activities.

Minimally, schools at all levels should strive to increase their library resources and activities to levels maintained by the high performing schools. Optimally, expenditures and activities should be increased to meet the "Exemplary" level of the School Library Programs: Standards and Guidelines for Texas."

As immediate objectives, elementary schools should:

  • Increase the library budget to the recommended level,
  • Increase the number of volumes purchased annually,
  • Increase the number of software packages for use in the school library by students,
  • Explore the feasibility of expanding the use of adult volunteers,

Middle/Junior high schools should:

  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of hours librarians spend identifying materials for instructional units developed by teachers, and
  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of hours librarians spent providing information skills to individuals and groups.

High schools should:

  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of library staff ,
  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of library staff hours,
  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of hours of library operations,
  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of hours librarians spend planning instructional units with teachers,
  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of hours librarians spend providing staff development to teachers,
  • Increase to the appropriate level the size of the library’s print volume collection,
  • Increase to the appropriate level the number of current subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

Continue on to Chapter 2

 

Page last modified: March 2, 2011