School Library Research


School Library Research (ISSN: 2165-1019) is the scholarly refereed research journal of the American Association of School Librarians. It is the successor to School Library Media Research (ISSN: 1523-4320) and School Library Media Quarterly Online.

The purpose of School Library Research is to promote and publish high quality original research concerning the management, implementation, and evaluation of school library programs. The journal will also emphasize research on instructional theory, teaching methods, and critical issues relevant to school libraries and school librarians.

SLR seeks to distribute major research findings worldwide through both electronic publication and linkages to substantive documents on the Internet. The primary audience for SLR includes academic scholars, school librarians, instructional specialists and other educators who strive to provide a constructive learning environment for all students and teachers.

SLR is indexed by The Education Full Text Database by EBSCO/Wilson and by the The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).

All material in SLR is subject to copyright by ALA and may be reproduced only for the noncommercial purpose of educational or scientific advancement.

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The Lilead Survey: A National Study of District-Level Library Supervisors: Roles, Responsibilities, Challenges, and Professional Development Needs


The school district library supervisor plays a pivotal role in supporting, advising, and providing professional development to building-level librarians; advocating for the program; providing leadership; and representing school library programs to stakeholders in the school system and the larger community. To gain a better understanding of supervisors’ roles, responsibilities, demographics, and challenges, and to establish baseline data upon which further research can be built, the Lilead Project was initiated in 2011 at the University of Maryland with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In 2012 the project team conducted the Lilead Survey, a survey of supervisors nationwide. In this paper, the second of two reports on the results of the survey, we present findings related to the responsibilities and tasks assigned to the position, professional development needs of supervisors and staff, and the range of stakeholder groups with which supervisors work.

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School Librarians Fully Online: Preparing the Twenty-First Century Professional


Online learning, already an essential component of the higher-education and professional landscape, has now developed a more ubiquitous presence in K–12 learning due to educational trends such as flipped education and use of tools such as Google Classroom. Despite the increasingly important role of online learning in K–12 education, little evidence indicates that graduates of school library preparation programs enter the profession with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required to design and deliver online learning experiences for K–12 students, experiences that take advantage of available resources and platforms. A mixed-method national survey of programs in the United States was conducted to examine the ways that school library preparation programs prepare candidates to design digital learning spaces that include fully online courses for K–12 students. Results indicate that preparation of future school librarians for the design and delivery of online instruction to K–12 students is not yet seen as an integral component of these graduate programs.

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UK Preparatory School Librarians’ and Teachers’ Design and Use of Reading Lists: A Qualitative Study of Approaches, Perceptions, and Content


This paper reports the findings of a small-scale qualitative study that explored the perceptions of and approaches used by UK school librarians and teachers in the design and use of reading lists. The research question was: “What is the best way to construct reading lists to maximize their benefit in the school library or classroom?” The research strategy adopted for the study was thematic analysis. The data collected from five semi-structured interviews was analyzed and a thematic map produced. The analysis identified four key themes that shape construction of reading lists: content, user, purpose, and format. The content was selected using a range of methods, including patron-driven, literary merit, exclusion, textual variety, and curriculum. The user was central to the design with reading lists being parent-driven and pupil-centered. The purpose was situated within a wider reader-development curriculum. However, the participants perceived that the reading list was a less-effective method of reader development than face-to-face interaction with pupils. Four recommendations to improve practice in similar contexts are suggested. The conclusion reached was that UK preparatory school librarians’ and teachers’ construction of reading lists is a complex practice that attempts to balance pupils’ reading for pleasure with their needs for literacy attainment.

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Assimilation or Humiliation? An Analysis of Professional Identities after Critical Events in the Workplace


Many studies have analyzed the occupational socialization of public school educators, including principals and school teachers; however, very few studies have documented or synthesized the experience of novice school librarians. This study contributes to the understanding of novice school librarians’ professional identities by analyzing their critical events in the workplace. Participants’ critical events were identified using a modified version of the narrative inquiry tool Mystory. After an examination of three novice school librarians’ critical event narratives, this paper explores the significance of those critical events on participants’ professional identity formation. Common findings relate to professional impact, professional respect, and professional confidence.

Board approved: July 2017

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Becoming a Reader: Significant Social Influences on Avid Book Readers


Understanding how social influences can foster avid book reader identification is a key research goal that warrants further investigation beyond a limited early-years lens. The author’s 2015 International Study of Avid Book Readers (ISABR) explored, as one of its key research questions, the influence positive social agents can have on avid book readers, relying on the retrospective reflections of respondents from a range of countries and supporting quantitative data to explore this research focus. Early influences were examined, with data suggesting that maternal instruction is the most prevalent source of early reading teaching. Most respondents (64.3 percent) were the recipients of positive influence from a social agent. Indirect avid reader influence, author influence, fostering access, shared social habit, reading for approval, recommendations and supporting choice, and exposure to reading aloud were recurring mechanisms of influence. The multiple mechanisms of influence identified constitute opportunities for engagement and subsequent intervention by literacy advocates, including librarians.

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Still Polishing the Diamond: School Library Research over the Last Decade


In 2003 Delia Neuman wrote “Research in School Library Media for the Next Decade: Polishing the Diamond.” One of the most influential pieces on school library research written in the last twenty years, the article provided a map for school library research by defining areas of concern and importance. Neuman developed questions grounded in the research and scholarship of the field at that time. These questions served as a charge for researchers to address in the next ten years. Neuman called on researchers to “polish the diamond and make it shine more brightly in its own right and sparkle more valuably in the larger field of education” (2003, 504). This study uses Neuman’s model of the diamond to examine school library research and scholarship from 2004 through 2014. Following Neuman’s guiding questions through a systematic review of the literature from the past ten years, this study finds that there is still much “polishing” to be done by school library researchers, and like Neuman, defines new “facets” that provide future direction to “move forward both the field’s research agenda and its effective practice” (Neuman 2003, 505).

Board approved: January 2018

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Drawing Diversity: Representations of Race in Graphic Novels for Young Adults


In light of the recent focus on diversity in books for youth as exemplified by movements such as “We Need Diverse Books” and “Reading Without Walls,” the authors sought to understand how race is depicted in graphic novels for teens. A textual analysis was conducted on a sample of books from the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2015 “Great Graphic Novels for Teens” booklist to answer the questions: How many people of color are depicted in the sample of graphic novels? How are people of color characterized as main character, supporting character, or background characters? What are the races of the authors and illustrators of these graphic novels? Analysis of the data suggests a higher-than-expected number of characters who are people of color are depicted in this sample of graphic novels, and that those characters often play central or significant supporting roles. The researchers also found that this sample of graphic novels was, for the most part, produced by white authors and illustrators.

Board approved: February 2018

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‘Just Let Me Go at It’: Exploring Students’ Use and Perceptions of Guided Inquiry


Guided Inquiry (GI) is an emerging pedagogy based on the Information Search Process (ISP), a research-based information-literacy model identified by Carol C. Kuhlthau (1985, 1988a, 1988b, 1988c, 1989b) and operationalized by the Guided Inquiry Design (GID) process (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari 2007, 2012, 2015). This study investigated perceptions and use of GI by Year 9 students at an Australian independent private school engaged in an inquiry unit in their Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education class focused on “Overcoming Adversity.” Two academic researchers and the school librarian collaborated on this mixed-methods study collecting data from survey questionnaires, focus-group interviews, and students’ work in digital inquiry process journals and final product presentations. Findings indicate students understand important elements of the GID process, including its independent nature, structure, and pacing through stages, and the element of choice. However, they differ on whether these aspects have a positive or negative effect on their learning and research process. An implication for GI practice from this study is a greater focus on allowing students independence and to proceed at their own pace, as expressed in a student’s comment and the title of this paper: “Just let me go at it.”

Board approved: March 2018

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School Librarians as Co-Teachers of Literacy: Librarian Perceptions and Knowledge in the Context of the Literacy Instruction Role


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has created additional opportunities for school librarians to collaborate with classroom teachers, reading specialists, and other educators in support of schools’ literacy goals. This potential for expanded collaboration suggests a need for increased focus on reading instruction as part of the school librarian’s workload. For a variety of reasons, school librarians may not see this role as a priority within the scope of their many other duties. This convergent mixed-methods study sought to examine the effect of a professional development series emphasizing reading comprehension strategies on school librarians’ knowledge and perceptions. Results indicated that participants experienced statistically significant knowledge gains as well as increased acceptance of an enhanced role in literacy instruction.

Board approved: March 2018

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Incorporating Computational Thinking into Library Graduate Course Goals and Objectives


As young people increasingly need computer science (CS) and other related STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills, libraries have been identified as spaces in which this learning can occur. However, librarians often perceive they lack the skills or confidence required to lead this type of education. As a result, funding sources, professional organizations, and researchers are examining the ways computational thinking (CT) can be better incorporated into graduate-level library science curriculum. Six graduate-level faculty members teaching courses related to school and public library youth services were selected as part of a larger research project. They redesigned their courses to incorporate CT concepts. In this study, we examined how CT concepts were incorporated into the syllabi objectives, how these concepts influenced the course objectives from previous iterations of these courses, and how various accreditation and state requirements influenced the development of course objectives.

The findings can inform course development of graduate-level library science curriculum. The findings also document the ways existing standards align with the developing need for computational thinking, computer science, and STEM learning within the curriculum.

Board approved: March 2018

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