Want Better Reading Scores? Hire a Full-Time Librarian


The ever-present budget cuts and faculty reductions that plague schools across the country have sparked questions about which services and staff members are crucial for students to receive an adequate education. New research from Library Research Service does a lot to answer these questions with evidence that one particular staff position drives up reading skills in students of all ages: the full-time librarian.

“There is a positive and statistically significant relationship between advanced reading levels and endorsed librarian staffing trends,” according to the report.

The study analyzed data from the Colorado Student Assessment Program to determine reading skills and involved students in grades three through ten. According to an article in School Library Journal, 45 percent of students who attended schools with librarians tended to increase their test scores over the course of a school year, compared to just 29 percent of students who had never had a school librarian on campus.

These findings debunk the myth that parent volunteers or library aides can replace a full-time, professionally trained school librarian. They simply don’t have the skills or time to adequately explain research methods, answer library-related questions or foster a love of reading in students as well as a librarian can. And libraries today don’t just house books: librarians now must be experts in all kinds of digital media, including online databases, resources and multi-media presentation formats.

Additionally, usage of both public and school libraries is rising, making it even more crucial for school districts to retain or hire qualified librarians. I think the presence of a librarian is most important in elementary schools, where basic reading skills are built. If a student doesn’t learn to read well in high school, he or she faces immense challenges farther down the road.

I hate to think of any school programs being cut, because each facet of education — whether it is science, math, history, art or music–is so important for students. But if budgets are really coming down to the wire, parents and community members need to speak up for the well-being of the students: keep the librarians.


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Photo from jeshua.nace via flickr


JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris3 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

Ruby W.
Ruby W6 years ago

Everybody is trying all these crazy nutbar ideas to make schools work and kids learn, and it is really pretty simple. Fund the schools. Make sure they have librarians, aides, enough teacher to keep class size nice and low. That's all it takes.

Meta R.
Meta Reid6 years ago

This finding was replicated albeit some years ago in NY state by their Board of Regents. They looked at all sorts of things too like what the kids ate for lunch, the income of the parents, the number of students per class, the education of the teachers, etc., etc. They concluded the same thing and that is a functioning library staffed by a librarian determines reading scores.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P6 years ago

I don't really agree just because we had those when I was younger and people still managed to get low reading marks :/

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

not surprised....librarians, like teachers, under-appreciated,under-paid, over-worked....love reading, love libraries, good for the mind.....

Pego Rice
Pego R6 years ago

I can still remember getting my first library card at 7. Now I have more books in my private library than my home town started with. Reading has entertained me, gotten me through school and save my life and a couple of my friends too.

Carol B.
Carol Burk6 years ago

All of my life I have been a reader, and have used public libraries regularly. Our school library was an excellent one, and still is. Without a trained librarian there would be a collection of books and other media, but no one to teach people just how to use it. Helping the students know how to learn well is one of the purposes of the school library. And the public library is the permanent on-going school for the rest of your life.

Rachel M.
Rachel M6 years ago

Sharing this with a friend who is a school librarian. Thanks

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers6 years ago

Books are the KEY to learning!

Lisa D.
Lisa D'Ambrosio6 years ago

As a Librarian, I love this!