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.


Sessions

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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Sparking Reading Motivation with the Bluestem: School Librarians’ Role with a Children’s Choice Award


This paper reports findings of a qualitative collective case study and single case study that explored student reading motivation. This research focused on school librarians’ perceived value of one children’s choice award––the Bluestem Award––and its effect on school librarians’ promotions and student behavior in the school library. Data were collected from site visits, questionnaires, book availability, book circulation, and voting ballots. Findings suggested that school librarians’ perceived value of the Bluestem was essential for their promotion of the award. This study concluded that the purchase of multiple copies of Bluestem Award books and promotions with the greatest personal interaction led to greater student reading motivation, as evidenced by student questionnaires, checkouts, and voting behavior.

Board approved: July 2018

Author(s):
  • Natalie H. Ross, Library Media Center Director, Spring Brook Elementary School
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The Preparation and Certification of School Librarians: Using Causal Educational Research about Teacher Characteristics to Probe Facets of Effectiveness


How do we define a high-quality school librarian? Decades of educational researchers have attempted to link teacher characteristics—such as how teachers are prepared, which credentials they carry, and years of experience—to student outcomes. These researchers have contended that individual educator attributes may have a direct effect on what and how much their students learn. School librarians are also teachers who have direct student contact, and although numerous studies have indicated that school librarian preparation, licensure, and other background characteristics are promising areas for further direct exploration, researchers have yet to examine if, how, and why school librarians’ certification or preparation positively impacts students’ learning outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to compare findings from causal educational research to findings from descriptive school librarianship research to discern possible areas of causal alignment that warrant further investigation. In this study, we present a subset of a larger mixed research synthesis of causal educational research related to student achievement, contextualized with existing school librarianship research, to draw relationships between classroom teacher and school librarian preparation and characteristics and to shape researchable conjectures about school librarians’ effects on learner outcomes.

Board approved: December 2019

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Whose Responsibility Is It? A Statewide Survey of School Librarians on Responsibilities and Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship


In 2015 the Utah State Legislature passed H.B. 213, “Safe Technology Utilization and Digital Citizenship in Public Schools,” mandating that K–12 schools provide digital citizenship instruction. This study presents an exploratory endeavor to understand how school librarians in a state that adopted digital citizenship legislation engage with digital citizenship instruction and their perceptions of a school librarian’s role in providing this instruction. We conducted a statewide survey of Utah school librarians, including questions focusing on digital citizenship resources used, current instruction within the school, and inquiries about improvements to current instruction. School librarians expressed a desire to be more involved in the instruction process, the need for more time, and the desire for consistent collaboration with teachers and administration.

Board approved: March 2019

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E-Book Collections in High School Libraries: Factors Influencing Circulation and Usage


When school librarians justify the purchase of electronic books (e-books) for their collections, they need to understand e-book usage patterns and whether or not e-books are meeting the recreational and informational needs of their students and teachers. Although a sizeable body of research is available examining the circulation and usage of e-books in academic and public libraries, there has yet to be a scientific study examining these variables in high school libraries. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of high school e-book collections through the analysis of circulation data and interviews with school librarians. A Relative Use Factor analysis was conducted. Quantitative results revealed that e-book circulation represented a significantly low total circulation for most of the high school libraries examined. Analysis of the interviews revealed commonalities and differences between e-book collections. Findings suggested that purchasing practices and marketing strategies can have a considerable impact on the circulation and use of e-books in high school libraries.

Board approved: April 2019

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Career Growth through Action Research: Outcomes from a Structured Professional Development Approach for In-Service School Librarians


The school librarian has a critical role to play in the 21st-century school learning environment. However, because of the constant changes in K–12 school environments and the difficult decisions administrators must make about allocating money to best help students, school librarians must rigorously document their professional growth and impact. Prior research demonstrates that action research is a promising vehicle for the professional growth of K–12 educators. This paper reports on a qualitative investigation on the outcomes of a year-long structured professional development approach that engaged in-service school librarians in action research. Findings demonstrated that action research gave the participants in this study a viable way to pursue professional growth. Results from thematic analyses indicate that the participants experienced improved collaboration with stakeholders, increased support for their school library programming, purposeful reflexivity (that is, intentionally thinking about their own feelings and thoughts in the context of how these could affect their own actions), and personal validation of their roles at the school. We also offer insights to practitioners who may wish to design similar professional development initiatives. Specifically, we have identified potential barriers that school librarians may encounter during the action research process, and have included recommendations for embedded scaffolds and supports for school librarians doing action research and changing their practices based on the results.

Board approved: May 2019

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Secondary Teacher Perceptions and Openness to Change Regarding Instruction in Information Literacy Skills


Information literacy skills are needed to help solve real-world problems, but K–12 students lack these skills. The purpose of the study was to use Michael Fullan’s (2007) Change Theory initiation phase to investigate teachers’ perceptions of their own openness to change and about collaboration between a school librarian and a teacher in the context of information literacy instruction. An explanatory sequential mixed-methods study was used to analyze teacher perceptions by means of a quantitative survey and school librarians’ qualitative reactions (gathered in interviews) to the results of the survey. Classroom teachers indicated a belief that teaching information literacy skills was the role of both school librarians and teachers. However, grading, assessing students’ progress, and teaching content-related information were the role of the teacher. The classroom teachers and school librarians both reported collaboration by dividing the lesson instead of working together on standards, planning, and assessments. A key finding that could contribute to successful implementation of change is gathering input from individual teachers by means of surveys and discussions in department meetings and communicating educational changes through faculty and department meetings.

Board approved: May 2019

Author(s):
  • Sarah Crary, Assistant Professor, North Dakota State University
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