How Libraries Help Students

The Ohio Study

Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries : The Ohio Research Study


In 2002, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, in collaboration with Leadership 4 School Libraries, received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the State Library of Ohio to undertake a new research project on how school libraries help students learn.


Dr. Ross Todd and Dr. Carol Kuhlthau, noted international researchers on school libraries and student learning, conducted the research for this study. The goals for the study were:

  1. to provide comprehensive and detailed empirical evidence of how school libraries help students learn, and
  2. to provide recommendations for further research, educational policy development and tools for the school librarian to chart how their school library impacts learning.

Project Overview for Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries


The Introduction

Studying the benefits of school libraries to student achievement began in the early 1990s, when Dr. Keith Curry Lance published the first Colorado Study. Since then several other states have also conducted similar studies, including Alaska (1999); Colorado II (2000); Pennsylvania (2000); New Mexico (2001); Oregon (2001); and Texas (2001). While there are individual differences in each of these studies, the findings show that statewide skills/competency test scores improve with increases in school library programs that have a clearly developed learning program; adequate and qualified staff; provide access to information technology; foster collaboration between teachers and the teacher-librarian; and facilitate individual visits to the school library. Test scores are also found to increase with the amount of time school librarians spend as inservice trainers of other teachers, acquainting them with the changing information environment, and facilitating the integration of information technology into learning. These are important and challenging findings


In the light of these studies, many professional voices in Ohio have been suggesting an Ohio Study for a number of years. As the professional organization for school librarians, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association has been exploring the need for an Ohio Study over the last three years. Additionally, the LSTA Advisory Council determined that an Ohio Study was a very high priority goal for the LSTA funds. School librarians across the state continue to ask when an Ohio Study will be conducted. The Leadership 4 School Libraries team (Linda Cornette/Ohio Educational Library Media Association, Terri Fredericka/INFOhio, Roxane Oakley/The State Library of Ohio, and Carla Southers/Ohio Department of Education) also feels the time is right in the school community to begin the research for an Ohio Study of school libraries and the benefits that result for student academic achievement and the impact on learning.


Ohio has joined states such as Texas, Virginia, and Oregon that have moved to standards based education and accountability through demonstrated evidence of learning. With the advent of the new academic standards documents, Ohio school library personnel find themselves better positioned than ever to have a direct impact on curriculum decision making processes, the improvement of literacy skills and the integration of information literacy into the curriculum. As First Lady Laura Bush said at The White House Conference on School Libraries, "School libraries help teachers teach and children learn, children and teachers need library resources - especially books - and the expertise of a librarian to succeed. Books, information technology, and school librarians who are part of the schools' professional team are basic ingredients for student achievement." Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries represents a significant and timely opportunity for the State of Ohio to understand how school libraries impact student achievement and life long learning.


Dr. Ross Todd, of Rutgers University and CISSL-the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, comments…

"This research project provides an exciting opportunity for the State of Ohio to lead the USA in the provision of significant findings that show the multi-dimensional relationship between an effective school library instructional program and student learning outcomes. It builds on the significant research currently in existence that has clearly established the relationship between well staffed, well funded school libraries that have active information literacy instructional programs, and state-wide test scores. As a lighthouse study, it will provide the State of Ohio with an understanding of the specific and complex, multi-dimensional dynamics of student learning, learning outcomes, and how these dynamics are enabled through the school library."


Benefits of the Study

Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries will benefit all Ohio education stakeholders by:

  • providing statewide data on best practices and promising practices in school librarianship
  • identifying pedagogy for teaching and learning in information based schools
  • encouraging continuous improvement in effective library services which support academic content
  • identifying professional development opportunities for reflective practice in order to build effective school library programs
  • providing a framework for dialog among parent communities, school boards, administrators, school librarians, and teachers on the value of effective school libraries
  • identifying how students benefit from school libraries
  • helping school librarians develop evidence based practice for their own school library
  • confirming for school librarians that their role and school libraries impact student achievement and life long learning.
Research Project Data courtesy of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA)