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Information Technology, Information Literacy,
and the International Baccalaureate
presented at the
Headmasters and Coordinators Conference : IB Diploma - A Preparation for Life,
Liverpool, October 30 - November 1, 1998.

Libraries and learning :
notes on research into the impact of school libraries.

The full text of the presentation will shortly be available as a Word Document.
These notes provide prompts for one of the more impromptu strands of the presentation.

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Libraries and learning : the research

It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what difference a library makes in the educational process. But it can be done and it has been done. There are many studies which make without-and-with comparisons, or before-and-after comparisons. These are particularly telling, because there are fewer variables to take into account, fewer other and outside factors. These studies include:
Haycock and Didier are included here for their reviews of the research. Haycock's What works! summarises the findings of over 600 studies into school libraries and librarianship; many of these deal with impact. Didier's review of more than 30 studies is concerned solely with impact.

Both Haycock and Didier mention the study by Barrilleaux; his action research studied groups of 8th and 9th grade science classes. The control groups were taught with textbooks and library resources, the experimental groups were taught only with library resources. He found little difference in students' science learning, but the experimental groups made significant improvements in critical thinking, science attitudes, writing, reading and their use of the library.

Todd performed a similar study in Australia. He found that all students in his information literacy group made significant and lasting gains over the the traditionally-taught group. He also found that students of different abilities benefited in different ways, but that all those in the literacy group benefited.
Hughes was a sceptical geography teacher in England. His research lasted four years. He found that all the students in the flexible learning groups benefited, with pupils of high ability gaining most. Those in the flexible learning groups tended to scored higher than those in traditionally taught groups. He found that flexible learners retained their learning longer, and that there was dramatic increase in pupil motivation; he found improvement in pupil behaviour. Those in the flexible learning groups showed increasing responsibility for their own learning, and that their other teachers got to know the students better and responded better to their needs; he found increased teaching satisfaction.
Lealand's report on the 4 year New Zealand experiment noted, "It has encouraged a wider and more diverse use of resources, introduced different perspectives on teaching and learning and perhaps, most importantly, promoted self-esteem amongst considerable numbers of students, who are now realizing that the acquisition of knowledge through resource-based learning can be both a pleasurable and a powerful process."
Moore, also in New Zealand, found that after workshops in the information skills approach, teachers were more aware, and not only incorporated information skills into their teaching, but also consulted more and worked more with their librarians.
In the Millbrook study in the States, they found that qualified librarians spend more time on people activities than non-certified librarians, while the appointment of non-professionals serves to perpetuate the low esteem in which librarians are held.
Mortimer and Mortimer in UK investigated the before-and-after effects of appointing associate staff to schools; they suggest methods of analysing benefits and disbenefits and of assessing cost-effectiveness of the appointments. They found that when library aides are appointed to assist school librarians, there are positive effects on attitudes towards lessons, on learning and in research skills. Teaching in those schools was felt to be a happier, more rewarding experience in those particular schools.
Loertscher studied schools across the United States which had been singled out as exemplary by state education departments and by schools. He found that every exemplary school had one or more libraries in which the librarian was assisted by at least one full-time equivalent library assistant. Loertscher makes the point that the clerical and technical routines of the library are time-consuming, but without clerical and technical assistance, the librarian has to do these duties. (This will, of course, perpetuate the clerical image; jrr)
Lance used the published statistics of over 200 Colorado schools, demonstrating them to be representative of schools throughout the State and of schools throughout the United States. He used statistical analysis to isolate the many factors which have been suggested as contributing to academic achievement, such factors as family size and educational background, family income, class size, teacher-pupil ratio, teacher qualifications and experience, and so on. Isolating them singly and in combination, he found that:
Among school and community predictors of academic achievement, the size of the LMC staff and collection is second only to the absence of at-risk conditions, particularly poverty and low educational attainment among adults. Of the factors which a school might control, Lance concluded:
  The size of a library media center's staff and collection is the best school predictor of academic achievement.
  Lance, Keith Curry. The impact of school library media centers ... , 1993.

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John Royce, BA, MLib, ALA
Library Director, Robert College
Arnavutköy, TR-80820 Istanbul, Turkey.

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