Improving Literacy Through School Libraries

The Literacy through School Libraries (LSL) program promotes comprehensive local strategies to improve student reading achievement by improving school library services and resources. The program is one component of the Department’s commitment to dramatically improve student achievement by focusing available resources, including those of school library media centers, on reading achievement.

Research has shown that Teacher Librarians positively affect the academic success of their students.  In the video posted below, Jamie Helgren and her colleague Keith Curry Lance discuss the impact of school libraries on student academic achievement.  Studies like this one have been conducted in other states with similar results.  There is no doubt Teacher Librarians impact student education.  This post is meant to provide ideas for Teacher Librarians to utilize to increase literacy.

There are a number of options to help Teacher Librarians impact literacy in Title 1 schools.  School Libraries Impact Studies (2013), suggested Teacher Librarians take on more leadership roles within schools.  Teacher Librarians that attend faculty meetings, collaborate with teachers, and meet with the principle on a regular basis can help improve Title 1 schools.  Jamie Helgren and Keith Curry Lance created a series of videos that demonstrate how getting involved with instruction and possibly curriculum development, Teacher Librarians can solidify their role in the educational system while not only increasing literacy but also student success in general.

School Libraries Work! (2008) stated school libraries inspire literacy by giving students access to information that matters to them.  For Teacher Librarians this can be accomplished through collection development.  Giving students an opportunity to read books and information that interest them is beneficial to their success.  “When students are able to explore information that is meaningful to them, they not only learn faster but their literacy skills grow rapidly” (School Libraries Work!, 2008).  In addition to supporting curriculum, Teacher Librarians have a responsibility to support student’s personal literacies.  Allowing students to give feedback on title selections will make them feel like they’re contributing to the library’s collection.  It will also get them excited about reading the material they requested.  Collection development can be an effective technique for Teacher Librarians to increase literacy and help students develop a passion for reading in Title 1 schools.  In the video, Teacher Librarians at the Heart of Student Learning (2009), Sally Murphy discusses how she used book trailers to get students excited about reading.  This combination of technology and print material is an innovative way to improve student interest in the library’s collection.

Using technology to improve literacy is another way Teacher Librarians can impact education.  School Libraries Matter (2014) showed how technology is integrated into the curriculum and how some schools have transformed their libraries into learning hubs.  This idea may not be financially feasiable for all Title 1 schools.  However, if school districts began investing in their libraries, they could turn insufficient libraries and under-performing students into interactive learning centers where students are excited about learning.  Teacher Librarians could use technology as a way to develop digital collections, allowing students to use e-Readers and tablets.   Another point from the School Libraries Matter (2014) video was students are encouraged to bring their devices to school.  Some might argue that this is a controversial technique but librarians could use this opportunity to not only improve basic literacy but media and technological literacy as well, helping to create more transliterate students.

Research has proven that Teacher Librarians increase student academic achievement.  While many Title 1 schools may lack financial resources, they simply cannot allow their students to fall further behind.  Investing in Teacher Librarians is strongly recommended because they have an opportunity to improve basic in low-performing students.  By taking on leadership roles in schools, collaborating with teachers, and attending faculty meetings, Teacher Librarians can be more involved with instruction and curriculum development.  Supporting student’s personal literacies through collection development and the use of technology are essential options for improving literacy in Title 1 schools.


Do you agree?  Should we be promoting incorporating technology into our school libraries?  How would you feel about letting your students spend most of their designated library time in the digital space?

Resources Used

School Libraries Impact Studies. (2013). Retrieved from

School Libraries Matter: The Changing Role of the School Librarian. (2014, October 22). Retrieved from

Scholastic Research & Results. (2008). School Libraries Work! Retrieved from

Teacher Librarians at The Heart of Student Learning. (2009, January 9). Retrieved from

Want to know more?

Lance, K. C., Rodney, M. J., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2000). Measuring up to Standards: The impact of School Library Programs & Information Literacy in Pennsylvania Schools. Retrieved from:

Price, G., (2015). Victory for School Libraries in Amendment to ESEA, Passed in Senate. School Library Journal. Retrieved from:

Stephen Krashen to LA School Board: Invest in Libraries



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