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The Library at School: Effects on reading attitude and reading frequency



Purpose ‐ This paper aims to describe the effects of the Dutch policy program the Library at School on primary school pupils' leisure book reading and attitude towards reading books, in the first year of the nationwide implementation of the program.Design/methodology/approach ‐ In monitoring the effectiveness of the Library at School, online questionnaires were administered to students (grades 2-6), teachers and reading-media consultants. The study is based on data collected in the school year 2011-2012 from a sample of 4,682 students from 229 classes, with 284 teachers of 68 schools. Findings ‐ Multilevel regression analyses show that effects of the Library at School on reading attitude and leisure reading cannot yet be discerned in 2011-2012, although slightly positive univariate effects are found. Research limitations/implications ‐ As yet, the number of participating schools is limited, hence statistical power is low on that level. Whether the sample can be considered representative for all Dutch primary schools is not certain. Practical implications ‐ The findings suggest that a school library in itself is not sufficient to promote book reading in leisure time. The role of the reading-media consultant in facilitating both teachers and learners might have to be strengthened. Originality/value ‐ This study gives a first glimpse at the effects of the program the Library at School on the reading attitude and leisure reading of primary school students in The Netherlands. The continuous monitoring approach employed is new and can be helpful for similar policy programs in other countries.
Article Title Page
The Library at School: Effects on reading attitude and reading frequency
Author Details
Frank Huysmans
Department of Media Studies
University of Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Ellen Kleijnen
Department of Media Studies
University of Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Kees Broekhof
The Netherlands
Thomas van Dalen
Thomas van Dalen Advies
The Netherlands
Corresponding author: Frank Huysmans
Corresponding Author’s Email:
The monitoring research approach has been subsidized by the Dutch ‘Kunst van Lezen’ program for reading
promotion, which is jointly co-ordinated and executed by the Dutch Reading Foundation (Stichting Lezen) and the
Netherlands Institute for Public Libraries (Sectorinstituut Openbare BIbliotheken).
Biographical Details:
Frank Huysmans is professor of library science at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and
works as a research & strategy consultant in the information and media sector at WareKennis.
Ellen Kleijnen is a PhD candidate at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.
Kees Broekhof works as a senior consultant/trainer at Sardes Educational Services, an educational consulting and
research institute in Utrecht.
Thomas van Dalen is organisational strategist in arts & creative industries at Thomas van Dalen Advies.
Structured Abstract:
Purpose – This paper describes the effects of the Dutch policy program the Library at School on
primary school pupils’ leisure book reading and attitude towards reading books, in the first year of the
nationwide implementation of the program.
Type footer information here
Type header information here
Design/methodology/approach – In monitoring the effectiveness of the Library at School, online questionnaires were
administered to students (grades 2-6), teachers and reading-media consultants. The study is based on data collected
in the school year 2011-2012 from a sample of 4,682 students from 229 classes, with 284 teachers of 68 schools.
Findings – Multilevel regression analyses show that effects of the Library at School on reading attitude and leisure
reading cannot yet be discerned in 2011-2012, albeit slightly positive univariate effects are found.
Research limitations/implications – As yet, the number of participating schools is limited, hence statistical power is
low on that level. Whether the sample can be considered representative for all Dutch primary schools is not certain.
Practical implications – The findings suggest that a school library in itself is not sufficient to promote book reading in
leisure time. The role of the reading-media consultant in facilitating both teachers and learners might have to be
Originality/value – This study gives a first glimpse at the effects of the program the Library at School on the reading
attitude and leisure reading of primary school students in the Netherlands. The continuous monitoring approach
employed is new and can be helpful for similar policy programs in other countries.
Keywords: The Netherlands, reading promotion, books, leisure reading, reading attitude, primary education, public
Article Classification: Research paper
For internal production use only
Running Heads:
The Library At School:
Effects on reading attitude and reading frequency
1. Reading promotion through the Library At School: program and practice
In 2013, the place that public libraries occupy in Dutch society is no longer as self-evident as it
was two decades ago. In the first half of the 1990s, the number of library members and usage
figures reached their peak, following a sharp rise in the 1960s and 70s. Then a steady decline set
in.[1] Several explanations have been suggested for this decline. A plausible explanation, which
is supported by empirical studies, is that printed media, books in particular, are judged
differently by older and younger generations. Older generations grew up in a time where few
other media were available. Accordingly, books, newspapers and magazines took a central place
in their media menu and leisure time use during their youth. Over the years, they largely
remained faithful to printed media, although they obviously have embraced television and
digital media as well. Younger generations, on the other hand, grew up with a range of
alternative media forms and had a totally different balance between printed and other media
during their youth. Additionally, many alternative leisure activities have come within reach of
larger groups over the twentieth century. In short, today’s youngsters grow up with a package of
media and leisure activities that is much more diverse compared to the young people of forty or
seventy years ago. These ‘competitors’ squeeze the amount of time, money and attention that
the younger part of the population devotes to reading printed texts (Huysmans, 2007; Huysmans
and Hillebrink, 2008).
A combination of drastic cuts and a copyright that hinders lending and passing on of digital
content force Dutch public libraries to make strategic choices with respect to their services in
the years to come (Huysmans and Hillebrink 2008; Kasperkovitz 2011). In a number of
municipalities where subsidies for the public library are reduced considerably, it is argued that
the scarcer resources can best be employed where the optimal societal return on investment can
be achieved - in children and youngsters.[2] Not just because today’s youth read less than their
parents and grandparents did when they were younger, but especially since a growing body of
scientific research indicates that good reading ability pays off later in life: in a higher
educational level and in better chances on the labor market, as well as a higher income and
eventually more wealth (National Endowment for the Arts [NEA], 2007; OECD, 2007). The
other way around, it has appeared that the majority of the children who start their primary
school career with a language disadvantage will never be able to catch up, in fact, they generally
fall even further behind (Stanovich, 1986; Cunningham and Stanovich, 1997; Mol and Bus,
2011; Mullis et al., 2012). These disadvantages already appear during the preschool period,
especially among families with parents who are themselves low-ability readers. Hence,
interventions aimed at stimulating reading would be most effective when they succeed in
reaching children as early as possible.
One of these interventions is the Library At School (‘de Bibliotheek op School’), which
comprises a structural cooperation between library, municipality and schools directed at
promoting reading enjoyment, stimulating reading and language development, and improving
information and media skills of primary school pupils in the Netherlands.[3] The library is an
obvious partner for schools in this area given its expertise in stimulating pupils’ reading
motivation, in training teachers in effective working methods and in informing them about the
use of book collections and other sources in subjects such as geography and history. Although
the Library At School is a national policy program, it is not a standard formula; how the
program is given shape depends on the local situation, wishes and needs (Thomas, 2013).
Nevertheless, there are several core components or ‘building blocks’ that can be pointed out:
network and policy, expertise, collection, digital portal, reading and media plan, activities,
monitor, logistics, exploitation, and marketing and communication. For example, the library and
schools involved register the planned objectives, results and activities for the school in a
‘reading and media plan’ on a yearly basis. The school provides a reading coordinator who
supports the team in implementing this plan, whereas the library provides the school with a
reading-media consultant who guides the school in carrying out the Library At School program
(Van Dam et al., 2012). The consultant assists pupils in finding books and information
(including internet searching) and supports teachers with materials and pedagogical expertise.
Another important element of the Library At School is access to a large, varied and up-to-date
collection of which – in an optimal situation – at least 50 per cent is available at school,
preferably in a school library. Moreover, structural attention is paid to reading and media
literacy in every grade and all the pupils are made members of the public library (Van Dam et
al., 2012).
The ultimate objective of the improved collaboration between schools and libraries is
enhancing the pupils’ language development, as this is a source of concern for many Dutch
schools. In spite of a range of actions in the educational program and didactic, language
disadvantages appear to be persistent and schools are often unable to turn the tide (Van Dam et
al., 2012). One of the most effective measures schools can take (in conjunction with the library)
seems to be a structural policy regarding free voluntary reading and leisure reading. After all,
there is a vast amount of research demonstrating a positive link between reading for pleasure
and language and reading ability. Children who often read in their leisure time have on average
larger vocabularies and better reading comprehension skills, as well as better spelling and
technical reading skills, than children who read less often (Krashen, 2004; Mullis et al., 2007;
Broekhof, 2011; Mol and Bus, 2011). It is estimated that children who read approximately 15
minutes a day can thereby enlarge their vocabulary with 1,000 new words per year (Broekhof,
2011). Reading a wide variety of reading materials (i.e. fiction books, magazines, comics etc.) is
especially related to reading achievement (Gille et al., 2010).
Given the positive relationship between reading behavior and proficiency in reading and
language, the Library At School indeed seems to have the potential to improve these skills
among pupils. In line with this, a considerable amount of research conducted outside the
Netherlands has indicated that school libraries are related to improved learning outcomes for
pupils (Lance et al., 1993; Ryan, 2004; Scholastic, 2008; Clark, 2010). Dutch research on
school libraries has also pointed to positive relations, such as a growth in youth memberships
and book loans, more leisure reading among children, and a more positive attitude towards
books (Geurtsen, 2008; Kieft et al., 2011). However, the amount of research carried out in the
Netherlands is considerably limited and the available results are based on rather small and local
datasets. The present study contributes to the body of research on the effectiveness of school
libraries in the Dutch context. On the basis of a relatively large and national dataset, it provides
a first glimpse at the effects of the Library At School program on primary school pupils’ leisure
reading and reading attitude, factors that are related to language and reading skills.
2. Monitoring the Library At School
Monitoring the effectiveness of the program is an integral part of the Library At School. All
municipalities, schools and libraries participating have committed themselves to supporting
monitoring of the effects of the program. For the purpose of monitoring effectiveness, an
instrument especially designed for the Library At School is used - the Monitor the Library At
School. This instrument consists of online questionnaires for pupils, teachers and reading-media
consultants, containing questions about the pupils’ attitude towards reading, leisure reading,
book-borrowing behavior of pupils, reading promotion efforts of teachers, and the reading
promotion policy of schools (and the library within the school). The questionnaires are
administered on a yearly basis. After a pilot phase in 2010, involving just a few schools and
libraries, the monitor has now been completed twice by participants throughout the country: in
school year 2011-2012 over 5,000 pupils completed it, and in 2012-2013 approximately 30,000
pupils did so. The monitor data are recorded in a national database.
The monitor can be seen a practical instrument which gives insight into the outcomes of
the cooperation between schools and libraries. Its main objective is providing these institutions
with information that can help them improve the results of their collaboration. The school and
library analyze this information together and, based on the results, they make new arrangements
about their cooperation. In the following year, the monitor is again administered and the results
are analyzed to assess whether the new arrangements have led to the intended changes. In this
way, the monitor functions as a practical instrument for taking decisions on an executive and
policy level in both schools and libraries.
This evidence-based approach cannot be seen in isolation from questions raised in
educational policy. In the Netherlands, schools are being confronted by a national policy that
increasingly asks for explicit results, especially when it comes to basic school subjects such as
language and math. To achieve better results, schools concentrating on systematically and
deliberately optimizing student performance are getting more numerous. ‘Optimizing student
performance means that a teacher team jointly analyses the pupils’ learning outcomes, which
leads them to making decisions about the content of their teaching. This happens according to a
cyclical method (‘plan, do, check, act’), taking place two or three times a year. The Monitor the
Library At School intends to fit in with this approach, by shedding light on the outcomes of the
collaboration between the school and library based on statistical data as well, and making
arrangements about possible changes in procedures following these figures. It can be considered
as a type of action research, explicitly aimed at helping improve educational practices with
respect to reading among pupils.
For libraries, the monitor is a timely one as well, since they are also confronted with the
question whether the outcomes of their services really justify the investments involved
(Huysmans and Oomes, 2012). In many places, library branches are now being closed in order
to save money due to the municipalities’ budgetary situation (Kasperkovitz, 2012). The monitor
can help libraries show that their services do have an actual effect, with a societal interest:
improving the language development of children and, as a result, their chances as participants in
the job market, as citizens and as individuals.
3. Method
Construction of the questionnaires
In designing the monitor questionnaires, priority was given to practicability, by aiming at
gathering as much as information as possible with a limited number of items. Nonetheless, the
utility for scientific purposes was considered as well. Ideally, the monitor supports both
objectives, but administering well-validated scientific instruments would impose too heavy a
burden upon the pupils (especially upon the ones who had just learned to read) and probably
also upon the teachers. Hence, maximizing practicability (i.e. limiting the size of the
questionnaires) was deliberately preferred over scientific utility. Nevertheless, based on the data
collected with the questionnaires, it is still possible to gain insight into the effectiveness of the
implementation of the Library At School on a nationwide level, albeit on the basis of
instruments that face some limitations from a methodological point of view.
The questionnaire designed for the pupils consists of approximately 15 questions
addressing reading pleasure, leisure reading, reading preferences, reading culture at home,
library visits and possession of books. This survey has to be filled out by primary school pupils
in second to sixth grade (i.e. groups 4 through 8 in the Dutch primary school system). In second
grade, the children’s reading level is just sufficient to answer the questions on their own,
although they sometimes receive some support from older pupils or adults. The constructed
questionnaire for teachers is very concise to maximize the response rate. It contains questions
that focus on their reading promotion activities such as reading to the pupils, participating in
reading projects, going to the library in or outside the school, having pupils deliver book
presentations, and deliberating reading promotional activities with other teachers. The
questionnaire for the reading-media consultants is fairly extensive, with about 25 questions
addressing topics such as the involved library at the school(s), the public library, and the reading
promotion policy in the school.
Sample and procedure
Participating in the monitor happens ‘bottom-up’, with municipalities, primary schools and
libraries deciding to join forces on a local level. In fact, the monitor uses the infrastructure of
libraries and schools to reach a great amount of participants, with libraries inviting schools to
participate in the monitor. For this purpose, libraries can use all sorts of information materials
(e.g. brochures, manuals and PowerPoint presentations) provided by the national reading
promotion program Kunst van Lezen.[4] If a school agrees to participate, the local library
branch will send online invitations to the teachers with a link that grants them access to the
digital teacher questionnaire as well as a link that grants their pupils access to the online
questionnaire for pupils. The reading-media consultant also completes his or her online
questionnaire. Access is granted to the monitor over about a four-month-period (October –
January). Thereafter, the survey data are cleaned and the schools receive a report from the local
library branch in which their results are compared to the average situation of all schools in the
national database.
In short, the sample is not formed based on a predetermined sampling frame, attempting
to achieve a maximum diversity in regions, degree of urbanization, and school denomination
(i.e. public schools or privately run (independent) schools). Consequently, it is uncertain
whether the sample can be considered representative for the situation at all Dutch primary
schools. Yet, a global assessment shows that both more and less urbanized areas are represented
in the sample. The same holds for the various denominations (public, Roman Catholic,
Protestant, Montessori, and other types of schools based on religious principles and/or
pedagogical principles).
This article is based on the data collected in the school year 2011-2012. In this year, the
initial sample consisted of 70 schools of which 253 classes (grades 2-6) participated in the
monitor. The number of schools involved was actually somewhat larger (77), but in 7 schools
neither teachers nor pupils participated in the monitor. In total, 590 teachers of the remaining 70
schools participated in the study by filling out their own questionnaire and /or by granting their
pupils access to the pupil survey. The difference between the number of classes and teachers
can be explained by the fact that teachers of the lower grades (i.e. kindergarten and first grade)
completed a questionnaire as well, but it is also due to the quite common situation in which
pupils in a particular class were taught by two (or even more) teachers. A total of 5,871 pupils
filled out a questionnaire in 2011-2012.
The final sample – on which our analyses are based – is somewhat smaller in size than
the initial sample. First of all, only teachers of grades 2 through 6 were included in the final
sample, as these are the grades the present study focuses on. Moreover, the data of a
considerable number of pupils (698) in second to sixth grade could not be analysed because of
missing data on the part of their teachers (i.e. they granted their pupils access to the online
questionnaires, but did not complete their own survey, which resulted in a lack of information
about the reading promotion activities in their class). The observations of another 491 pupils
were left out since they were, according to the dataset, in unrealistically large classes (i.e. more
than 40 pupils per class, with a maximum of over 100 pupils). Obviously, the registration of
pupils per class went wrong in these cases. Accordingly, the final sample consists of 4,682
pupils (79.7 per cent of the initial sample) from 229 classes, with 284 teachers of 68 schools.
The school size varied from 36 to 559 pupils, with an average of 223 pupils.
Data analysis
The dataset has a nested structure. Pupils (level 1) are nested in classes with the same teacher(s)
(level 2) and, per class, they are exposed to the same reading promotion influences. Classes and
teachers, in their turn, are part of schools (level 3) with a certain reading promotion policy that
is the same for everyone involved in the school. Given the hierarchical structure of the data, the
observations cannot be considered independent. Therefore, a multilevel modeling approach was
required to analyze the data set. Unlike more conventional statistical techniques, multilevel
analysis does not demand independence of observations and it gives more correct estimates of
standard errors than models that neglect the nested data structure (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2007;
Hox, 2010).
4. Results
As already mentioned, the results presented in this section are based on data of the school year
2011-2012, a year in which the Library At School and the related monitor became integrated on
a larger scale in the Dutch educational field. At a number of schools involved in this study, the
Library At School program had just been implemented when the data collection took place, and
pupils and teachers were still in the phase of getting used to it. Accordingly, it is very early to
expect that possible effects of the Library At School have already occurred. Nevertheless, it is
quite obvious to explore whether some early effects may already be observed, as the data are in
fact available.
The analysed data set is structured along three levels. On the top level, the primary
schools are situated with different combinations of facilities for reading education. A school
library is one of these, but there are others as well. The data for the schools were collected
through questionnaires administered to the reading-media consultants employed by the public
libraries. On the middle level, there are the classes within the schools. As mentioned before, the
teachers have provided the information about how they shape reading promotion in their
respective classes. These facilities on school and class level together determine which reading
impulses the pupils, situated at the bottom level of the three-level-structure, receive in school. In
Tables I and II, we first map the facilities. Next (Tables III-VI) we show to what extent these
affect the reading attitude and the amount of reading in leisure time of the pupils.
Provisions in the schools
Not every school in the study houses a school library, with just 32 out of the 77 schools (42 per
cent) in the initial sample of schools having one. In the remaining 45 schools there are other
provisions. One of these is the Boek1boek service: pupils can make reservations for books in
their own school that are then delivered there after a short interval. Less tailored to individual
pupils are traveling collections, which – centred round a school’s project theme – are delivered
to the school by the public library and exchanged for another collection for a specified period.
Many schools also have an agreement with the local library branch to go there with the class
and receive instructions about how library collections are ordered, as well as to return books and
borrow new ones. The facilities are also provided in combination (Table I).
Table I shows the co-occurrence of a school library and the other three facilities. One of them is
significant and obvious: if a school library is present, classes from this school visit the local
public library branch less often.[5] The primary objective of the Library At School evidently is
to bring books closer to the children and thereby making them more accessible than is the case
when they have to leave school to obtain them. Yet the combination of the presence of a school
library, the Boek1boek service and (especially) the exchange collections does occur. This is not
internally inconsistent: as the school library has a fixed collection, the other services provide an
additional temporary collection.[6]
To what extent does reading promotion in schools with and without the Library At
School program differ? The objective of the program naturally is to give a positive impulse to
reading promotion at schools. This ought to find expression in increased attention for reading
promotion by the teachers in their classes (Table II).
Four out of nine activities the teachers have been asked about do indeed occur (significantly, p
< .05) more often in schools with a school library: going to the library in the school itself,
obviously, but also having pupils deliver book presentations, participating in projects around
books and reading, and organizing book circles. One activity occurs less often: visiting the local
library branch with the classes (see also Table I). Almost all teachers in both categories of
schools read aloud to the class at least several times a month. Nor does introducing a book to the
class occur more often in schools with a school library: in two out of three classes this is done
several times a month or more often. In both school types, teachers deliberate almost equally
frequently about reading promotion activities. In almost half of the classes, the teacher pays
attention to books in a different way at least several times per month. Activities named are,
among others, offering extra activities for children who lag behind in reading skills, having
children read aloud to each other, letting children retell and re-enact the story, participating in
reading promotion activities such as the Children’s Book Week, reading (aloud) with parents,
and integrating reading education with other teaching modules (e.g. search for historical or
geographical information in books).
All in all, reading promotion appears to be somewhat more prominent in schools having a
school library than in the other schools. It is the question, however, whether one can expect that
this as yet slight lead can be expected to have yielded already significant effects on pupils’
reading behaviour – as already mentioned, the putting into practice of the Library At School
program had only begun shortly before this first evaluation study. In the remaining part of this
section we will investigate this for two aspects of reading: first the reading attitude (how much
do children like reading) and then the frequency of reading in leisure time.
Effects on reading attitude
The affective dimension of reading was measured in this study by asking pupils the
straightforward question ‘How do you like reading books?’. Response categories were: 1
annoying; 2 don’t like it so much; 3 quite like it; 4 like it very much. On average the pupils are
situated at the upper side of the scale with a mean score of 3.22. Reading is thus experienced as
being ‘likeable’. The variation around the mean appears limited when the reading attitude is
crossed with the frequency with which teachers perform reading promotion activities in the
classes (Table III).
Out of the eight forms of reading promotion listed here, four cause slight differences in reading
attitude.[7] Visiting the school library shows the least limited effect. The more often the class
visits this facility, the more pupils like reading books. Next in line is reading aloud to the class
with also a slightly positive effect. On the other hand, deliberation between teachers about
reading promotion appears to have a slightly negative effect: the more often it occurs, the less
pupils like reading books. To conclude, participating in reading promotion campaigns shows a
curvilinear effect. Both pupils in classes in which this never happens and pupils in classes where
this happens most often, score higher on reading attitude than the categories in between.
Visiting the library outside school with the class, as an alternative to having a library within
school, does not have an effect on reading attitude.
The effects reported in Table III are those of separate variables. They were not
controlled for the influence of other characteristics. In a multivariate regression analysis, it is
possible to track down the ‘pure’ effects of the characteristics. Due to the layers in the data with
pupils nested in classes nested in schools, a multilevel regression is needed. In this type of
analysis, the variance in reading attitude is divided over the three levels of schools, classes (i.e.
teachers) and the residual variance on the pupil level (including variance due to random
measurement error). In Table IV, the results of four analyses are displayed. First, a zero-base
model without predictors is estimated. The model splits up the variance in the dependent
variable (reading attitude) to the three levels, which gives a first estimate of the maximum
amount of variance between classes and schools that can be explained by variables on their
respective levels, i.e. characteristics measured at the school and teacher levels.
Model 1 then shows effects of the Library At School: the presence of a library in the
school (school-level variable) and how often it is visited with the class (class/teacher-level
variable). In Model 2, three variables are added that map the reading promotional activities by
the children’s parents: reading aloud to the child, talking with the child about books, and
visiting the library (generally this will be the local public library branch) with the child. These
questions have been administered to the children themselves. In Model 3, gender and age of the
children are controlled for. It is known from earlier research that girls have a more positive
(book) reading attitude than boys. It is also known that in the higher grades the reading attitude
tends to decline somewhat (Nardon et al., 2011; Huysmans, to be published).
Model 0, the variance-decomposition model, demonstrates that out of the total variance in
reading attitude, a maximum amount of 3.2 per cent can be attributed to differences between
schools. Differences between teachers in the way they practice reading promotion in their
classes account for maximally 5.2 per cent of total variance in reading attitude. Thus, the
boundaries of what the Library At School program might bring about are set, at least for this
first evaluation moment in 2011-2012.
The bare presence of a library in a school does not yield a significant contribution to the
explanation of variance in reading attitude as yet. The same is true for visiting the school library
with the class by the teacher (Model 1). Since by far the largest amount of variance can be
attributed to differences between pupils (and not schools and classes/teachers), chances are that
reading promotional activities by parents have greater effect. Model 2 demonstrates that indeed
this is the case, with two out of three activities contributing to explaining differences in reading
attitudes. Talking about books, and visiting the local library branch with the child lead to a
slightly more positive reading attitude. Reading aloud to the child does not appear to have effect
on reading attitude – at least not in the age group 8-12, which is object of study here. Other
research has provided evidence that reading aloud to children can be advantageous to preschool
children, enhancing their vocabulary (Mol and Bus, 2011).
The effects of parental reading socialization remain when gender and age of the child
are added in Model 3. Both effects are statistically significant. Controlled for other factors in the
model, girls score .25 higher on the reading attitude variable than boys. As age climbs, the
reading attitude declines with .05 per age year on the scale. Over the five grades monitored
(corresponding roughly with ages 8-12) this means a decline of .25 of the scale. The effects of
gender and age are therefore more substantial than all reading promotional effects combined.
Effects on reading books in leisure time
In a similar way as with reading attitude, the effectiveness of the Library At School and other
aspects of reading promotion can be mapped. As before, we first present the univariate effects
(Table V) and subsequently the multivariate analysis (Table VI).
Visiting the school library with the class has a – univariate – effect on book reading frequency
in leisure time, although the size of the effect is limited here as well. The two other significant
effects are negative: having children deliver book presentations, and deliberating reading
promotional activities with other teachers cause reading frequency to decline somewhat. For
book presentations, this can be interpreted as a possible effect of ‘schoolifying’ reading. To the
extent that pleasure in reading books is subordinated to learning in school, this appears to
negatively affect reading in leisure time years later in adulthood (see Verboord, 2003).
The multivariate analysis in Table VI shows that in this starting phase of implementation of the
Library At School program, effects on the leisurely book reading frequency cannot yet be
discerned. The zero-base model demonstrates again that of the total variance in reading
frequency only minor, albeit statistically significant, parts can be attributed to between-school
(3.6 per cent) and between-class/teacher differences (4.0 per cent). Neither the presence of a
school library (school level) nor visiting it with the class (teacher level) contribute to the
explanation of differences in how often pupils read books at home in either of the models 1-3.
The importance of the parental role is highlighted yet again by the positive effects of talking
about books and visiting the library with the child. Also, reading aloud to the child does not
seem to have an effect on leisure reading, at least not in the age group studied here.
The strongest effect does again stem from the child’s gender: girls read books at home
more frequently than boys, with a difference of almost half a point on the scale. The negative
age effect is again apparent, with the oldest pupils (around 12 years) scoring almost a quarter
point lower than the youngest (about 8 years) on the reading frequency scale.
5. Conclusions, recommendations and discussion
The results of this study into the effects of a Library At School policy program in large part
mirror the findings of earlier studies (like the one by Kraaykamp, 2002). The capacity of
schools, teachers and libraries in promoting reading in children should not be overestimated.
Parents can exert a stronger influence in enhancing reading attitude and frequency, particularly
in preschool years (Whitehurst and Lonigan, 2002) than schools and libraries can. In the
findings reported here, this was demonstrated by the limited amount of variance in reading
attitude and frequency that could be maximally explained by between-school and between-
teacher differences. Put in other words, differences in reading between pupils could not be
attributed to what schools, teachers and libraries do.
Nevertheless, the slightly positive univariate effects that could be discerned in the first
program year already give hope for the years to come. That no significant effects could be
demonstrated in the multivariate analyses certainly is connected to the as yet small number of
participating schools in school year 2011-2012 and the low statistical power that came with it.
In the following year 2012-2013, already over 300 schools were participating, which gives hope
for the future of the program as well.
Seen from the other, more critical side this early effect evaluation has demonstrated that
the Library At School program should try to reinforce its outcomes for reading education. The
differences between schools with and without a school library are as yet limited. The
employment by libraries of reading-media consultants in the schools, who support and facilitate
both teachers and pupils, should not become the last item of the budget. The potential success of
the program, as indicated by the reinforcement of children’s inclination to read, will depend to a
considerable extent on their efforts. Only when the Library At School is integrated with the
entire course curriculum will the investment in bringing the library facilities into the school pay
off: for the public library itself, for the schools and the teachers, but first and foremost for the
pupils in their later lives.
[1] See (accessed 20 February 2013).
[2] See e.g. Kasperkovitz (2011);;; (accessed 9 May 2013).
[3] Http:// (accessed 20 February 2013).
[4] See
[5] Due to the limited number of schools (N=68) in this analysis the confidence intervals are large and substantial
correlations can nevertheless appear not significant.
[6] For how the Library At School and the Boek1boek service are connected see
bieb-op-school (Dutch only).
[7] The significance testing is not entirely pure in the sense that we did not take into account the clustered structure of
the observations. The p-values in Tables III and V therefore give a slightly too rosy picture of the effects.
Broekhof, K. (2011), Meer Lezen, Beter in Taal. Effecten van Lezen op Taalontwikkeling, Kunst van Lezen, Den
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van 15-jarigen. Nederlandse Uitkomsten van het Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
op het Gebied van Leesvaardigheid, Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen in het Jaar 2009, CITO, Arnhem.
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Table I.
Co-occurrence of reading facilities and activities in primary schools (vertical percentages; N = 77 schools)
School library
No Yes phi p
Boek1boek 0.118
No 84 75
Yes 16 25
Exchange collections 0.009
No 21 21
Yes 79 79
Visit public library branch -0.371
No 55 90
Yes 45 10
Source: Monitor Library at School in the Netherlands 2011-2012.
Table II.
Co-occurrence of reading promotion activities by teachers and presence of a school library (% performing the activity several times a
month or more often; N=284 teachers, 68 schools)
School library Correlation
No Yes phi p
Reading aloud to class 95 94 0.080 0.439
With class to school library 23 62 0.444 0.000
With class to public library branch 49 36 0.143 0.008
Introducing books in the class 63 69 0.113 0.111
Pupils giving presentation of a book 25 44 0.212 0.000
Participating in project around books/reading 7 9 0.129 0.046
Consult with team about reading promotion 15 12 0.095 0.269
Organize a book circle 11 24 0.214 0.000
Other activities with books 46 46 0.060 0.820
Source: Monitor Library at School in the Netherlands 2011-2012.
Table III.
Univariate effects of reading promotion activities by teachers in class on reading attitude pupils (N = 4,628-4,650 pupils, 284
teachers, 68 schools)
times a
times a
once a
several times a
mean eta p (F-test)
Reading aloud to class 3.19 3.13 3.23 3.29 3.27 3.21 0.068 0.000
With class to school library 3.21 3.22 3.26 3.33 - 3.22 0.032 0.192
With class to public library branch 2.98 3.11 3.23 3.20 3.23 3.21 0.054 0.009
Introducing books in the class 3.20 3.19 3.24 3.24 3.16 3.21 0.036 0.186
Pupils giving presentation of a book 3.25 3.21 3.25 3.17 3.20 3.22 0.045 0.054
Participating in project around
Consult with team about reading
promotion 3.28 3.22 3.12 - 3.33 3.21 0.060 0.001
Organize a book circle 3.21 3.19 3.22 3.32 3.33 3.22 0.046 0.044
Scale reading attitude (‘How do you like reading books?’): 1 = low, 4 = high.
In the F-tests no correction has been made for dependencies between observations.
Source: Monitor Library at School in the Netherlands 2011-2012.
Table IV.
Multilevel regression of reading attitude on reading socialization and personal characteristics (N = 4,682 pupils, 284 teachers, 68
Model 0 Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Intercept 3.200
School library present 0.069
with class
Reading aloud 0.010
Talk with child about books 0.083
Visit library branch with child 0.082
Gender: female 0.240
Age -0.048
School 0.017
Teacher 0.028
Pupil 0.491
% variance % variance reduction (~model 0)
School 3.2
Teacher 5.2
Residual variance 91.5
-2 log likelihood 10120
Source: Monitor Library at School in the Netherlands 2011-2012.
Table V.
Univariate effects of reading promotion activities by teachers in class on frequency of reading in leisure time by pupils (N = 4,616-
4,638 pupils, 284 teachers, 68 schools)
times a
times a
once a
times a
mean eta p (F-test)
Reading aloud to class 3.81 3.67 3.79 3.89 3.79 3.81 0.047 0.035
With class to school library 3.81 3.79 3.83 3.89 - 3.81 0.015 0.780
With class to public library branch 3.54 3.67 3.84 3.86 3.80 3.81 0.044 0.062
Introducing books in the class 3.71 3.81 3.82 3.76 3.82 3.81 0.026 0.546
Pupils giving presentation of a book 3.89 3.79 3.79 3.74 3.82 3.81 0.045 0.049
Participating in project around
Consult with team about reading
promotion 3.89 3.81 3.68 - 3.78 3.81 0.047 0.016
Organize a book circle 3.81 3.79 3.72 3.90 3.81 3.81 0.027 0.483
Scale frequency of reading in leisure time (‘How often do you read a book for pleasure at home?’): 1 = low, 5 = high.
In the F-tests no correction has been made for dependencies between observations.
Source: Monitor Library at School in the Netherlands 2011-2012.
Table VI.
Multilevel regression of frequency of reading in leisure time on reading socialization and personal characteristics (N = 4,682 pupils,
284 teachers, 68 schools)
Model 0 Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Intercept 3.782 0.037
3.759 0.059
3.010 0.068
3.396 0.159
School library present 0.115 0.080
0.093 0.070
0.071 0.067
with class
Reading aloud 0.025 0.016
0.013 0.016
Talk with child about books 0.165 0.017
0.163 0.017
Visit library branch with child 0.156 0.013
0.138 0.017
Gender: female 0.427 0.033
Age -0.053 0.014
School 0.050 0.016
0.048 0.016
0.033 0.012
0.026 0.011
Teacher 0.056 0.013
0.057 0.014
0.042 0.012
0.042 0.012
Pupil 1.291 0.028
1.293 0.028
1.210 0.026
1.163 0.025
% variance % variance reduction (~model 0)
School 3.6 4.1 34.7 47.2
Teacher 4.0 (-2.3) 24.8 24.4
Residual variance 92.4 (-0.2) 6.3 9.9
-2 log likelihood 14555 14501 13854 13684
Source: Monitor Library at School in the Netherlands 2011-2012.
... Allington and McGill-Franzen (2021) show that research published since 2000 shows that evidence is more clear that reading volume plays a role in reading development. Research indicates that a good reading ability pays off later in life: in higher education level and better chances in the labour market as well as higher income and eventually more wealth (Huysmans, et al., 2013). Moreover, reading a wide variety of materials leads to reading achievements, positive learning outcomes and positive attitudes towards reading and books (Nation, 1997;Davis, 1995). ...
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... This is not the work of individual libraries, but of universities and other specialized institutes. One such analysis has looked at the impact of school libraries on reading motivation (Huysmans et al., 2013); another has analyzed the overall picture emerging from the data (Broekhof & Broek, 2014). ...
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... Although, the consideration of school libraries as an indispensable part of the society is still beyond the imagination and the potentiality of school libraries is till now a vague. A large percentage of the people throughout the globe has believed that the preschool years are more effective than school libraries to create a reading habit (Whitehurst and Lonigan, 2001;Huysmans, et al. 2013). In India, the statistics of District Information System for Education (DISE) of GOI has also mirrored the dissatisfactory condition of the school libraries; out of 244653 schools 90.17% ...
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Schreiben und Lesen sind elementare Kulturtechniken, welche Kinder während der Grundschulzeit nicht nur erwerben, sondern auch im Freizeitkontext nutzen. Sie eröffnen den Zugang zu kultureller Teilhabe und können als integraler Bestandteil kultureller Bildung betrachtet werden. Die vorliegende Arbeit geht auf Basis der vier ihr zugrundeliegenden Zeitschriftenartikel der Frage nach, welche Determinanten freizeitliches Schreiben und Lesen von Kindern im Grundschulalter erklären. Um den aktuellen empirischen Forschungsstand zu Determinanten und Kriterien freizeitlichen Schreibens und Lesens von Kindern im Grundschulalter aufzuarbeiten, wurde ein Scoping Review durchgeführt (Birnbaum & Kröner, 2022): Von 982 in Scopus aufgefundenen Originalarbeiten entsprachen n = 62 den Einschlusskriterien. Die meisten dieser Publikationen fokussierten auf das Lesen (n = 58) und nur wenige Arbeiten (n = 4) bezogen sich auch oder ausschließlich auf das Schreiben. Am häufigsten wurden Zusammenhänge von freizeitlichem Schreiben oder Lesen mit bereichsspezifischen Variablen berichtet. Die vorliegende Evidenz bezog sich überwiegend auf korrelative Befunde. Darüber hinaus zeigte sich, dass die meisten Arbeiten nur ausgewählte Determinanten einbezogen, nicht aber eine große Bandbreite. Im Rahmen des Scoping Reviews wurde als Forschungsdesiderat sichtbar, dass eine umfassende empirische Untersuchung einer großen Bandbreite an Determinanten freizeitlichen Lesens und insbesondere Schreibens noch aussteht. Hierauf beziehen sich die drei im Folgenden dargestellten, eigenen empirischen Originalarbeiten. Als theoretisches Rahmenmodell wurde das Person-Umwelt-Transaktionsmodell verwendet, in welchem das Ausmaß kultureller Aktivitäten auf darauf bezogene bereichsspezifische Überzeugungen zurückgeführt wird (untergliedert in den intrinsischen Wert sowie weitere, diesem vorauslaufende verhaltensbezogene, normative und Kontrollüberzeugungen). 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This study explores how New Zealand primary school students’ experiences of school libraries affected their attitudes towards reading for pleasure once they entered secondary school. Two hundred and seventy-six students in their first year at high school completed a survey asking about their primary school libraries. The students were asked to self-identify as keen readers, occasional readers or non-readers. The results were analysed in a spreadsheet, considering variables such as attitude to reading, former school and family background. The students were mainly positive about their libraries, but were bothered by cramped and noisy environments and books they perceived as babyish. Students from schools with a librarian were more positive about reading for fun than those from schools where the library was not prioritised. Students from a family background where reading was encouraged were more likely to maintain a positive attitude to reading by the time they reached high school.
Conference Paper
This paper explores the impact of school libraries on students' reading achievement at primary and secondary school in Spain. Firstly, it is provided an overview of the state of the art of the research on libraries' impact in the Spanish education context. Secondly, a statistical analysis is conducted by using the datasets released from the international student assessment surveys, as an attempt to measure and confirm the effect of school libraries on students' scoring. With a quantitative empirical approach, the paper seeks to test the influence of the library as a predictive variable for achievement results in international reading assessments. Framework and datasets released from PISA 2009 and PIRLS 2011 surveys are used as a source for the statistical analysis. The systematic procedure for data selection, together with variables operationalization are explained. Then, possible associations between variables are explored. The results suggest statistically significant evidences of the positive impact of school libraries on students' reading scoring at secondary school. Finally, the paper explores those limitations concerning the analysis at primary school. Therefore, further research issues are suggested. This work is part of an ongoing doctoral research which is focused on the impact assessment of libraries in learning contexts.
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La lectura es un tema que preocupa cada día más. Los bajos índices de consumo, los resultados de comprensión lectora de los alumnos y el reto que supone el nuevo contexto digital han provocado todo un debate en torno a la lectura y su promoción. Este artículo analiza las investigaciones publicadas entre 2000-2015 en revistas internacionales indexadas en Scopus y en WoS. Estos trabajos resaltan la necesidad de abordar esta temática desde una mirada interdisciplinar y empírica que permita establecer las bases para una correcta actuación y la consolidación de hábitos de lectura estables, especialmente entre los niños y jóvenes. Del análisis realizado se concluye que buena parte de la oferta actual en materia de promoción lectora es básicamente un intento para acercar los libros y la lectura de forma atractiva a los lectores más jóvenes, si bien son escasas todavía las investigaciones que se preocupan de los resultados de estas intervenciones.
The Art of Reading is a national reading promotion program in the Netherlands targeting children and youngsters from birth to 18 years of age. Launched in 2008, the program reached in 2016 nearly 700,000 children. In this article, we describe the program’s background, ambitions, content, and implementation, as well as the central role of the public library in its development and execution. A special focus is on the digital monitoring system that has been created to monitor the impact of the program on pupils’ reading behavior and teachers’ reading promotion behavior.
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p style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt; line-height: 150%; text-indent: 0cm;"> Este trabajo surge del interés de evaluar la biblioteca escolar como medio lector, como generadora y aleccionadora de hábitos lectores. Pretende responder a la cuestión de si las directrices que rigen las actuaciones en torno a la lectura de las bibliotecas escolares de Bizkaia, en el País Vasco, son convenientes y fructíferas. Con este objetivo, primero se ha realizado un análisis detallado de los hábitos lectores y las percepciones sobre la importancia de la lectura que tienen los escolares y sobre quién los induce. Posteriormente hemos elaborado un estudio diagnóstico de las bibliotecas de centros de Educación Primaria, analizando su trabajo como agente lector y su integración e implicación con la comunidad educativa. Y finalmente se ha establecido la relación de los dos análisis anteriores para ver hasta qué punto la existencia de una biblioteca escolar favorece o no los hábitos lectores, concluyendo, por una parte, que la actitud y el estímulo familiar son elementos básicos para favorecer los hábitos lectores y, por otra, que la mera presencia de una biblioteca escolar en el centro no es suficiente para mejorar hábitos o valoración de la lectura, sino que la clave está en el tipo de biblioteca que trabaja con los escolares. </p
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Public libraries in the Netherlands face growing scepticism about their value to communities and society at large. The digitization of media, information and communication gives rise to questions about the library’s function, as it still is based mainly on physical service provision. Furthermore, the current economic recession causes local, regional and national governments to critically question every euro spent on cultural institutions. In this climate, there is a growing need for public libraries to show their worth – not only in an economical, but also in a more sociological sense. As standardized measurements for these values are still lacking, a research program was started to develop these outcome measurements. In this paper, we sketch the rationale behind this program and the steps the Netherlands Institute of Public Libraries is taking to develop a measurement instrument geared at validly and reliably demonstrating the societal value of public libraries. Results from the first stages of the research program will be presented: a theoretical framework of the (possible) impact of libraries on Dutch society, based on the findings of a literature study and qualitative research. The findings help us identify and conceptually enrich five domains of possible impact: cognitive, social, cultural, affective and economical. This outcome framework will guide the development of a measuring instrument.
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The public library is the biggest cultural institution in the Netherlands, with around 4 million members and 130 million items lent each year. Inspite of this, the library is under pressure: membership numbers and borrowings have been declining steadily for several years. In the last six years the public libraries have been working together with local, provincial and national authorities on a 'library renewal' programme. From an organisation primarily concerned with lending books, the library is being transformed into a cultural centre which is active in five domains: knowledge and information, development and education, arts and culture, reading and literature, and meeting and debate. Meanwhile, rapid changes have been and are taking place in society and in the world of information and culture. This study describes relevant developments within and outside the Dutch public library sector and relates them to each other. Based on these observations, the report outlines two possible futures for the position of the public library in the Netherlands ten years from now. In the first scenario, trends continue at the same rate and the public library gradually loses support. In the second possible future, the present trends accelerate and the threats are greater. These two future projections are followed by an analysis of the deficiencies that could arise from a social perspective in both cases. In conclusion, a number of suggestions are put forward for action by the sector and the public authorities to counter these deficiencies. The central focus is on the substantive renewal of the library service.
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Discusses the major findings of the 1988-89 study that investigated the impact of school library media centers on academic achievement in Colorado public schools. Highlights include research methodology; the effects of staff size, collection variety, funding, and library media specialists' instructional role; and suggestions for further research. (Contains two references.) (LRW)
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A FRAMEWORK for conceptualizing the development of individual differences in reading ability is presented that synthesizes a great deal of the research literature. The framework places special emphasis on the effects of reading on cognitive development and on "bootstrapping" relationships involving reading. Of key importance are the concepts of reciprocal relationships-situations where the causal connection between reading ability and the efficiency of a cognitive process is bidirectional-and organism-environment correlation-the fact that differentially advantaged organisms are exposed to nonrandom distributions of environmental quality. Hypotheses are advanced to explain how these mechanisms operate to create rich-getricher and poor-get-poorer patterns of reading achievement. The framework is used to explicate some persisting problems in the literature on reading disability and to conceptualize remediation efforts in reading.
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This research synthesis examines whether the association between print exposure and components of reading grows stronger across development. We meta-analyzed 99 studies (N = 7,669) that focused on leisure time reading of (a) preschoolers and kindergartners, (b) children attending Grades 1-12, and (c) college and university students. For all measures in the outcome domains of reading comprehension and technical reading and spelling, moderate to strong correlations with print exposure were found. The outcomes support an upward spiral of causality: Children who are more proficient in comprehension and technical reading and spelling skills read more; because of more print exposure, their comprehension and technical reading and spelling skills improved more with each year of education. For example, in preschool and kindergarten print exposure explained 12% of the variance in oral language skills, in primary school 13%, in middle school 19%, in high school 30%, and in college and university 34%. Moderate associations of print exposure with academic achievement indicate that frequent readers are more successful students. Interestingly, poor readers also appear to benefit from independent leisure time reading. We conclude that shared book reading to preconventional readers may be part of a continuum of out-of-school reading experiences that facilitate children's language, reading, and spelling achievement throughout their development.