(i) how school library programs can be further developed to ensure that the programs reflect changing technology and best serve the students; (ii) how many schools in each district have a school library and a credentialed school librarian and in how many schools is the librarian a full-time position; (iii) the ratio of students per credentialed school librarian; (iv) what other support staff work in the school library program; (v) how employees are scheduled to work in school libraries; (vi) the hours school libraries are open each week for students and faculty to use; (vii) how many hours each week school librarians provide direct library-related instruction to students; (viii) the number of computers in school libraries for students to access; (ix) the size and age of the collection in each school library and the extent to which electronic and digital materials are available for students to access; (x) the extent to which electronic and digital materials are available for students to access remotely; and (xi) current funding per student for school library materials and services (The 189th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts).
MSLA members Kendall Boninti (MSLA Legislative Chair) and Judi Paradis (MSLA Past-President) serve on the Commission. The research study is being developed by Drs. Carol Gordon and Robin Cicchetti (MSLA members).
On Saturday, September 12th, sixteen MSLA members met in the Westborough High School Library to participate in a pilot of the S.1906 survey. The school librarians who participated came from across the state, and represented schools and students from pre-K to postgraduate years. The rich and thoughtful feedback generated during the pilot will be invaluable to the revisions and the power of the final survey. The pilot study participants were Leigh Barnes, Maya Bery, Kendall Boninti, Anita Cellucci, Laura D’Elia, Maria D’Orsi, Kristin Foti, Barbara Gogan, Keri Johnson, Connie Long, Claudia Palframan, Judi Paradis, Chris Steinhauser, Nancy Stenberg, Carrie Tucker, and Jennifer Varney.
The state studies from New Jersey (2010), Pennsylvania (2012), and Washington State (2014) have all confirmed findings of previous state studies that the presence of an effective school library program positively impacts student achievement regardless of economic disparities. The Massachusetts pilot study was generated using the eleven domains outlined in the legislation. Ultimately, the study will provide a snapshot of school libraries across the state, and will generate conclusions around issues of equitable access to the instruction and resources available to students, the factors that enable a successful school library program, and the barriers to equitable access for all students.
The study is designed in two phases. Phase I is a quantitative survey that will provide hard data in the form of a “snapshot” of school libraries in the state. For example, currently we do not know what percentage of schools have library programs, or how many programs are being run by licensed school librarians. Other hard data from domains such as instruction, collection information, funding sources, staffing ratios, technology, and hours of access, will help generate conclusions about the equity and access to the instruction and resources available through the school library for Massachusetts students. Phase I is designed to obtain crucial baseline data from every school from all 351 districts and scheduled for launch in mid-October, and preliminary analysis is scheduled to be delivered in March, 2016.
Phase II of the survey will be comprised of a series of focus groups and will generate qualitative data. During this phase school librarians will be asked to share their experiences and insights across the eleven domains listed in the legislation, providing feedback and richer context on the Phase I data. The result of the Massachusetts study will be “formal guidelines for school library facilities, budget, staffing, collection development and curriculum standards for school library programs” (The 189th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts).
Court (Mass. 2014). Retrieved from https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S1906
PA School Library Project (Ed.). (2015, July 14). Pennsylvania School Library Study: Findings and Conclusions. Retrieved
September 13, 2015, from PA School Library Project website: http://paschoollibraryproject.org/home
Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A., & Lu, Y.-L. (2010, July). Report of findings and recommendations of the New Jersey School Library
Survey. Retrieved from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/njasl_phase_1.pdf
The Washington State School Library Impact Study (Washington Library Media Association, Comp.). (2015, April).
Retrieved from https://wala.memberclicks.net/assets/WLMA/Advocacy/wsslit%20exec%20summary%204.7.15.pdf
Robin Cicchetti is the librarian at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School