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Focus on Global Education: Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Macro and Micro Levels of Effective School Libraries from an Information Science Perspective

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The present article describes a longitudinal, mixed methods, case study of Kansas, USA, school libraries. The overall aim in the study is to explore from an information science perspective the school librarian’s involvement in information literacy instruction, student learning and achievement and meaningful educational partnerships. Sources and types of evidence from this five-year investigation are made available on a website with the intent of contributing to a strong community of evidence-based practice.
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Focus on Global Education:
Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Macro and Micro Levels of
Effective School Libraries from an Information Science Perspective
Mirah Ingram Dow, BSE, MLS, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Management
Campus Box 4025
Emporia State University
1200 Commercial Street
Emporia, KS, 66801-5087
USA
The present article describes a longitudinal, mixed methods, case study of Kansas, USA,
school libraries. The overall aim in the study is to explore from an information science
perspective the school librarian’s involvement in information literacy instruction, student
learning and achievement and meaningful educational partnerships. Sources and types of
evidence from this five-year investigation are made available on a website with the intent of
contributing to a strong community of evidence-based practice.
school libraries, information and technology literacy, evidence-based practice
Focus on Global Education:
Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Macro and Micro Levels of
Effective School Libraries from an Information Science Perspective
The relationship between education and the well-being of people has long been
recognized. Today American education law and policy makers maintain that education is
the ticket to future productivity and that every child should have a ticket. This era has been
fraught with concerns that disengaged United States American (USA) students are falling
behind their Asian peers in academic learning (Steinberg, 1996). The school library has
become a potential target for school improvement outlined and required in No Child Left
Behind Act of 2001 (PL 107-110).
Fortunately, the conversation about improving education has evolved from whether
we should teach about the world to how to best teach about the world given the present
information explosion and everything else teachers have to do. Using information and
technology is probably one of the greatest ways to improve and internationalize education.
To achieve world-class learning and literacy that prepares young people for work and
citizenship in a global society and enables them to participate fully in political, civic, and
economic life in society, some fundamental, overarching questions that educators must ask
and answer are: How can we ensure that global perspectives become an integral part of
learning and literacy? What role does the school librarian have in meaningful, educational
partnerships? This study explores interrelated variables to answer these questions in a
longitudinal, mixed methods, case study of Kansas, USA, school libraries.
Terms Defined
Information Age School
“The school would be more interactive, because students, pursuing questions of
personal interest, would be interacting with other students, with teachers, with a vast array
of information resources, and the community at large to a far greater degree than they
presently do today. One would expect to find every student engaged in at least one open-
ended, long-term quest for an answer to a serious social, scientific, aesthetic, or political
problem. Students’ quests would involve not only searching print, electronic, and video
data, but also interviewing people inside and outside of school. As a result, learning would
be more self-initiated. There would be more reading of original sources and more extended
writing. Both students and teachers would be familiar with the intellectual and emotional
demands of asking productive questions, gathering data of all kinds, reducing and
synthesizing information, and analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating information in all its
forms.
In such an environment, teachers would be coaching and guiding students more and
lecturing less. They would have long since discovered that the classroom computer with its
access to the libraries and databases of the world is a better source of facts than they would
ever hope to be. They would have come to see that their major importance lies in their
capacity to arouse curiosity and guide it to a satisfactory conclusion, to ask the right
questions at the right time, to stir debate and serious discussion, and to be models
themselves of thoughtful inquiry” (American Library Association, 1989).
Information Literacy
Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when
information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed
information” (American Library Association, 2006).
World-Class Learning
World-class learning is a concept in the making. Bransford, Darling-Hammond,
and LePage (2007) constructed a framework to illustrate three general areas of knowledge,
skills, and dispositions that are important for any teacher to acquire: knowledge of learners
and how they learn and develop within social contexts; conceptions of curriculum content
and goals; and an understanding of teaching in light of the content and learners to be taught.
“The framework provides a set of lenses on any teaching situation that teachers can use to
reflect on and improve their practice” (p. 10). It is built on the assumption that “teaching is
a profession with certain moral and technical expectations” (p. 10); in the USA, education
serves “the purposes of a democracy (p. 10). This means that for schools to be democratic,
and world-class, “they must assume the purpose of preparing young people for work and
citizenship in a global society and of enabling students to participate fully in political, civic,
and economic life in society; educators support equitable access to what society has to
offer” (p. 10-11).
Literature Review
School library media impact studies have been designed to answer questions about
whether or not school librarians and fully licensed school librarians matter. The matter of
significance is important because the U. S. Legislature in the No Child Left Behind
(NCLB) Act of 2001 defined the criteria for “highly qualified” educators, and teacher-
librarians were not listed among those in “core academic subjects” who need to have
particular course work and credentials. As a result, educators’ qualifications for serving as
teacher-librarians continue to vary from state to state, and paraprofessionals occupy the
position of librarian in many schools. In many states such as Arizona and California, the
position has even been eliminated in many school buildings all together. All teacher-
librarians are at risk when considered on the periphery in education.
The first Colorado Study (Lance, Welborn, and Hamilton-Pennell, 1993) indicted
that school library expenditures were a key predictor of academic achievement. Findings
suggested that the amount and level of library staffing, collection size, and the amount of
time the school librarian spends playing an instructional role are key library predictors. In
the Alaska study (Lance, Pennell, Petersen, & Sitter, 2000) significant findings indicated
that test scores tend to be higher where there is a librarian; a full-time librarian rather than a
part-time one; and a part-time librarian rather than no librarian at all. The Texas study
(Smith, 2001), Iowa study (Rodney, Lance, & Pennell, 2002), and Minnesota study
(Baxter, Smalley, 2003) all indicated similar findings that student performance on
achievement tests improved with investment of school library center resources and the
presence of a librarian. The Ohio Study (2003) investigated students’ perspectives of
benefit from school libraries through elaborating concepts of “help.” Ohio findings
indicated that the school library and its services, including roles of school librarians, helped
students in some way, regardless of how much, with their learning. By 2005, the research
conducted by Lance et al. had been replicated in more than a dozen states with five different
researchers or research teams (Lance & Callison, 2005). These studies produced
consistency in data and some separation of effects, particularly economic investment
effects.
Existing impact studies serve as a form of evidence when it comes to the need to
sustain development of the school library media profession. Previous findings identify
specific activities of the library staff that constitute planning an instructional role and the
impact of library-related technology. The scarcity of evidence on the role of the teacher-
librarian in meaningful, educational partnerships that emphasize information literacy
instruction and global perspectives is very regrettable. Demonstrating that school librarians,
along with other educators, prepare students for work, citizenship, and daily living in an
information-rich environment is the kind of evidence that may make it possible to infiltrate
the current NCLB position on school librarians and finally begin to list “teacher-librarian”
as “highly qualified.” It will be important to know how, and how much, is achievement
improved when librarians collaborate more fully with other educators.
School library researchers must now design studies that use theoretical lenses to
advance the relationship among variables and raise new questions about students’ learning
and information needs and educators’ roles in user-centered information services. This is
one such study. The new goals in this study are to conduct research that will generate
theory about how educators teach and students learn in information age schools, and gather
stronger evidence of practice impacts and outcomes that can be shared with teachers,
administrators, public officials, parents and community members, and in so doing, benefit
students in today’s world. This study recognizes the school librarian as a professional
educator who is both highly qualified and highly involved in information literacy
instruction, and student learning and achievement.
This study attempts to contribute to the existing knowledge base by exploring the
influence of integrated, team-based instruction on students’ development of research and
academic skills. It examines by comparing Kansas Accountability Reports (licensed
personnel) and Kansas Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports, and by investigating
whether test scores can be positively influenced by the extent to which active and
collaborative instructional approaches are used by school librarians and content teachers.
This study answers these questions using a combination of quantitative and
qualitative research methods and a constant comparison of data in a “mixed methods
approach” (Creswell, p. 19) to identify links between instruction and student learning and
achievement not only in reading, but also in mathematics, science, social studies, history/
government, and writing.
At the macro level (institution), the study asks: 1) Does student performances on
state assessments improve as a result of instruction based upon model State Library Media
and Technology Standards that are aligned with state assessed content areas? 2) Is there a
positive relationship between student performances on state assessments and students’
access to a fully qualified library-media specialist? Even though similar questions have
already been posed in statewide studies, it is important to understand annual State statistics
on these matters. Annual Kansas statistical reports will be used to inform the field and to
determine micro level methods for data collection for each of five years.
At the micro level (individual), the study asks school librarians: How are you
involved in information literacy instruction including engagement in collaborative lesson
planning, development, and delivery? Of particular interest is learning from participants in
the study about the librarians’ role in integration of information and technology literacy into
school curriculum and students’ learning activities that emphasize global perspectives.
Theory-base of the Study
Neuman (2000) views theories at three levels, each with a different breadth of
coverage: micro-level (small slices), meso-level (linking), and macro-level (large
aggregates). Neuman’s concept of levels was used in this study to rethink the issue of
school library impact and to present a different, systematic view of the phenomena. The
field of information science provides a macro level lens for explaining the school as a social
institution; the theory of evidence-based practice explains decision-making at the
organizational level; and theories of diagnosis of information needs and guided inquiry
provide explanations for how librarians engage with students.
Information Science: A Service Perspective
According to Rubin (2004), “The field of information science has much to offer
when one is considering how to improve information service” (p. 74). This is particularly
true for improving school library services. New information technologies have provided a
driving force for research in information science and contributed a great deal to our
understanding of how information is created, organized, disseminated and used in society.
A defining feature of library science is its “focus on the transmission of information to meet
human needs” (p. 32).
Knowledge of information science, an “interdisciplinary field that draws on
scientific, social scientific, and psychological fields” (Rubin, 2004, p. 32) when integrated
into educators’ theory base provides a useful lens for examining many of the problems and
tasks that now confront educators, administrators and policy makers. “Contemporary
information science has made the shift in emphasis away from the book to information
itself. Information science is sometime characterized as deinstitutionalized information
library science; it is the library without walls, the entire world of information is the
collection and the librarian or information scientist is the agent who acquires, organizes, and
disseminates that information to meet the needs of people” (p. 32).
Evidence-based Practice
Theory-based practice, also referred to by the medical profession (Melnyk &
Fineout-Overholt, 2005; Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenberg, & Haynes, 2000) as
evidence-based practice (EBP), is used throughout this study. Like EBP in the delivery of
services in health care, EBP librarianship (Figure 1.) is a problem-solving approach that
uses empirical research to identify best practices in library services and to design instruction
for guiding students in their learning and academic achievement. When EBP librarianship
is provided in a context of caring, it leads to decisions about best practices and outcomes
for students. Active engagement with theoretical and empirical knowledge enables the
school library media professional to evolve and to improve.
Figure 1. Evidence-based Librarianship Model
The Process of Diagnosing Information Needs
The theory of diagnosing information needs is particularly relevant to this study as
it provides foundational knowledge for determining best educational practices. It also
provides a basis for informing school librarians’ actions and role in meaningful educational
partnerships. According to Greer, Grover, and Fowler (2007), knowledge of information
user behavior grows out of the field of information psychology. Information psychology
“focuses on how individuals seek, acquire, organize, process, utilize, and store
information” (p. 80). These researchers assert that information psychology applies such
theories as Piaget’s cognitive development theory, Jung’s personality theory, and Grindler
and Stratton’s role theory to explain the process of diagnosing individual information
needs.
Greer et. al. (2007) further state that “diagnosing information needs can occur at any
point in the behavior of acquiring information: awareness of need, action decision,
strategies for search, behaviors in search, evaluation, assimilation, memory and/or
utilization” (p. 81). Their theory suggests points for diagnosing individual information
needs that are likely to occur throughout students’ school days, not simply while in the
library for a brief, scheduled visit. From this it is possible to extrapolate that individual
information needs are present when, for example, a content teacher introduces a new topic
or assignment; a student is faced with an action decision such as currency exchange with
another country; strategies in search and behaviors for search occur in the midst of an
exercise in determining the best approach to graphical simulations of human muscle motion
and deformation; opportunities for evaluation, assimilation, memory and/or utilization are
all involved in learning about who makes our clothes or cell phones to the pros and cons of
international trade agreements.
While diagnosing information needs has typically been considered the work of the
professional librarian involved in a reference interview, these examples suggest that all
educators in a student’s academic life share roles in diagnosing individual information
needs. The theory of diagnosing information needs in the context of today’s information
age schools suggests the need for strong partnerships between content teachers, school
librarians and technologists.
The Theory of Guided Inquiry
We can gain insight into helping students acquire global perspectives as they learn
and acquire literacy skills through the lens of theory on guided inquiry. According to
Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari, 2007, the theoretical foundations of guided inquiry are
grounded in constructivist theories including those of Dewey, Bruner, Kelly, Vygotsky,
and Piaget. Kuhlthau et. al. assert that “Inquiry is initiated by someone who has something
that needs investigation, a fundamental question, pressing issue, or troubling problem that
requires further information” (p. 17). Kuhlthau’s (1993, 2004) more than twenty years of
information search process (ISP) research, which includes children and adults, reveals that
there are distinct stages (initiation, selection, exploration, formulation, collection,
presentation, assessment) in the inquiry process, and some stages are more difficult for
some individuals than for others.
Kuhlthau’s research provides evidence that educators should expect students to
experience difficulties and confusion during the exploration and formulation stages of the
information search process. She uses Kelly’s (1963) personal construct theory as a lens
for explaining her observations of students’ experiences when encountering new ideas that
often conflict with what they already know and accept. Kuhlthau points out that uncertainty
is the beginning of the learning process and an important concept that underlies the inquiry
process. Kuhlthau asserts that students need to learn about their own uncertainty and its
relationship to seeking meaning. Her theory suggests the need to know more about a
possible correlation between the quality of the school librarian’s services and the student’s
openness and acceptance of new ideas.
Kuhlthau’s ISP model has been shown in recent studies conducted by the Center
for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University (Todd, Kuhlthaus,
and Heinstrom, 2005) to apply in technological information environments. The ISP model
includes the stages of reflection and thinking that are easily overlooked when using
electronic information. The IFS model is based on solid empirical knowledge about the
individual search process and provides those involved in evidence-based librarianship
professional expertise, knowledge and skills they can apply in practice. School librarians
who reply on information science as a source for understanding and building strong
partnerships are likely to lead, inspire, and transform schools into environments where all
students makes sense of their world.
Outcomes and Standards Provide Framework for Evidence
State and national standards for student learning provide a framework for the
evidence that must now be generated. States have the opportunity to construct and use their
own model standards for PreK-12 information and/or technology instruction.
Kansas Model Standards for Library and Information Technology
Recently, Kansas school librarians and technologists came together to review
existing standards and to create one new thoroughfare for teaching content-based, authentic
inquiry. Benchmarks are aligned with instruction in content areas. These features draw
special attention to the school librarians’ instructional responsibility to collaborate with
other educators and to be accountable for doing so. Figure 2.is an illustration of the
merger of content, school library media and technology assessed standards coming together
to form data sources in this study.
Figure 2. Kansas Study Data Sources
AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner
In October, 2007, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
published “Standards for the 21st Century Learner,” which provide useful guidelines for
world-class learning and literacy. These standards build on Information Power: Building
Partnerships for Learning (1998), provide a plan for the school librarian to 1) serve as a
collaborative instructional partner with the classroom teacher; 2) provide information access
through various sources for all members of the learning community; and 3) to manage the
infrastructure of the school library. These new standards define nine foundational common
beliefs. While all nine beliefs are relevant to world class learning and literacy, these beliefs
are particularly unique in their emphasis on student learning and achievement in terms of
equitable access to information and learning in a social context as key components for
education. These standards are expressed in skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities,
and self-assessment strategies that 21st century students will need to become effective
problem-solvers who question, find, evaluate, and share information.
Methods
A longitudinal, mixed methods, case study of Kansas, USA, school libraries is being
used to explore implications of the school librarian’s roles in information literacy
instruction and meaningful educational partnerships. Kansas, population: 2,775,997 (U.S.
Censes Bureau, 2007), is a mid-western state in the central region of the USA, an area
often referred to as America’s “heartland.” To best understand Kansas school libraries, this
study serves to converge both broad quantitative trends from annual state accountability
reports (phase one) and qualitative methods of open- and closed-ended questions (phase
two). Quantitative research concepts and methods are used in phase one activities to study
all grade levels and all Kansas school buildings. Qualitative research concepts and methods
are used in phase two activities to focus on participant activities within selected school
buildings. Figure 3. is a detailed outline of the simultaneous data collection procedures.
This study is most concerned with solving the problem. It is based on the
assumption that collecting diverse types of data best provides an understanding of the
research problem. It begins with a broad analysis of statistical data that can be generalized,
and then focused on detailed qualitative, open- and closed-ended questions in surveys,
interviews, participant observation protocol, and/or document analysis to collect detailed
views of the participants. Details about data and data collection instruments are available on
the research Kansas Study of School Libraries (Dow & Lakin, 2005 - present) website.
Research Year Quantitative Methods
Phase One
Qualitative Methods
Phase Two
2005-06
Year One
Statistical analysis of State of
Kansas Department of Education
Accountability Reports and
Adequate Yearly Progress
Reports.
Surveys sent to school librarians in school’s that achieved the
Standard of Excellence and employed a fully licensed school
librarian.
Interviews in schools achieving high with and without school library
media specialists, and achieving low with and without school library
media specialists.
2006-07
Year Two
Statistical analysis of State of
Kansas Department of Education
Accountability Reports and
Adequate Yearly Progress
Reports.
Survey of school and non-school librarians; Focus on aspects of
teaching global perspectives
Document analysis of librarian constructed units of study
Interviews with school administrators with and without school
librarians
2007-08
Year Three
Statistical analysis of State of
Kansas Department of Education
Accountability Reports and
Adequate Yearly Progress
Reports.
Survey of pre-service elementary education students to learn about
how competent and willing they are to take advantage of the
librarian and library.
Evidence-based sources from Post-MLS School Library
Identify leaders in evidence-based practice and learn from them
Interviews, Observations
2008-09
Year Four
Statistical analysis of State of
Kansas Department of Education
Accountability Reports and
Adequate Yearly Progress
Reports.
To be determined
2009-10
Year Five
Statistical analysis of State of
Kansas Department of Education
Accountability Reports and
Adequate Yearly Progress
Reports.
To be determined
Figure 3. Kansas Study of School Libraries Mixed-Methods Data Collection Procedure.
This five-year, Kansas study began during the 2005-06 school year because many
important factors came together at one point in time. These factors included: a new five-
year assessment window (based on criterion reference testing) in reading, mathematics,
writing, social studies (history/government), and science; Kansas Individual Data on
Students (KIDS) database for managing student records; revised library-media standards
with the addition of technology standards; locally administered 8th grade technology
assessment; and, revised Kansas Quality Performance Accreditation system to meet no
Child Left Behind requirements. The data collection and analysis in phase one and two take
place in concert with five consecutive academic school years. At the writing of this article,
second year (2006-07) data are being analyzed.
Phase One, Years One – Five. Kansas Licensed Personnel reports are used to
determine effects variables in school buildings with- and without fully-licensed school
librarians. Quality Performance Accreditation (QPA) reports of scores by school buildings
are reviewed. Statistical data are used to identify high achievement (met Standard of
Excellence) by building and buildings on school improvement. Licensed Personnel Records
and reading and math achievement reports are compared and organized into results charts.
Phase two, Year One – Five. Researcher-made tools for further investigating
findings in phase one data are used to determine the school librarians involvement with
student learning. The primary purpose of phase two is to present a grounded theory of
information literacy instruction. For purposes of this paper, grounded theory (Creswell,
2003) is defined as theory generated from data systematically obtained and analyzed
through the constant comparison method.
Results
Phase One Questions
During phase one, the study seeks to answer: Phase One, Q.1. Does student
performance on state assessments improve as a result of instruction based upon State
Library Media and Technology Standards that are aligned with state assessed content areas?
Phase One, Q.2. Is there a positive relationship between student performances on state
assessments and students’ access to a fully qualified library-media specialist?
Phase One Responses
Phase One, Q.1. There is initial statistical evidence of the presence of fully
licensed school librarians in Kansas schools. Approximately 85% of Kansas school
buildings employ at least one fully licensed school librarian. In small schools, there is
sometimes one fully licensed school librarian to serve two school buildings. This finding
appears to be stable.
Phase One, Q. 2. There is initial statistical evidence that most Kansas school
building with fully licensed school librarians are earning high recognition for student
learning and achievement. During 2005-06, of 341 school building that earned the Kansas
Standard of Excellence, which required Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in both math and
reading, 301 (88 %) buildings have licensed school library media specialists, and 40 (12 %)
have no licensed school library media specialist. This study revealed that the 12% is often
explained by school librarians serving two building and not being reported in both, or
school building employing school librarians with conditional licenses. This finding appears
to be stable.
Phase One, Q. 2. There is initial statistical evidence that a small percentage of
Kansas school buildings with fully licensed school librarians are not earning high
recognition for student learning and achievement. During 2005-06, of the 75 school
buildings in Kansas that failed to achieve Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in both Reading
and Mathematics, 58 (77%) have licensed school library media specialists and 17 (23 %)
have no licensed school library media specialist. The study revealed that in school
buildings with no licensed school librarian, there were instances of para-educators or pre-
service librarians employed. Occasionally, a licensed substitute teacher was assigned to the
school library.
Phase Two Questions
During phase two of each year, the study seeks to answer: Phase Two, Q. 1. How
are you involved in information literacy instruction including engagement in collaborative
lesson planning, development, and delivery? Of particular interest is learning about
librarians’ role in integration of information and technology literacy into school curriculum
and students’ learning activities. We first needed to establish the extent to which school
librarians are involved in these ways.
Phase Two Responses
Phase Two, Q.1. More than half (51%) of responding Kansas school librarians
(n=97) in high performing schools reported involvement in collaboration with teachers that
connects to something the content teachers were teaching in the classroom. School
librarians were usually involved in teaching reading skills and teaching research skills and
resources. At an international content and communication magnet school, the school
librarians stated, “We have integrated technology into every part of our curriculum, both
within the classroom and during library classes. Our students are actively involved in
learning about the programs and resources that encourage their learning. I instruct with
enrichment to aide students’ knowledge area of specific topics.”
In the initial year of the study, this question was difficult to answer due to Kansas
school librarians’ lack of tracking their own instructional involvement and lack of recording
or reporting sources of evidence of student learning. Too often librarians create annual
program-based reports without including details about their involvement in helping students
to achieve learning outcomes.
Phase Two, Q.1. Low performing schools have been on school improvement
plans for one year or more. These schools have high numbers of students on free and
reduced school lunches. In one school, the interviewed respondent reported that the school
is “like a revolving door. Many kids do not know where they will sleep tonight. Kids are
members of gangs. Many students are living with grandparents, staying in hotels, and
some sleep in cars. Kids just need to survive and save face is more important than learning.
Some want to learn but they think if they show that they want to learn, they are being
weak.”
Phase Two, Q.1. A major focus on global education existed in a Kansas school
building with a mission that emphasized international content and communication. Also,
discovery of high numbers of students with diverse backgrounds and interests pointed to
the need to teach school librarians more about instruction that requires global perspectives.
As a result of this finding, “focus on global perspectives” will be targeted in 2008 Kansas
Summer Institute for School Librarians professional development class.
Conclusions
Viewing school libraries and librarianship through the lens of information science
offers an opportunity for gaining new insight into the school librarian’s role as a “highly
qualified” (NCLB, 2001) educational partner in information age schools. It is this
information knowledge base that should be argued is the school librarian’s “core academic
subject” (NCLB, 2001) and that which distinguishes professional school librarians from
para-educators. First and second year data reveals opportunities that educational partners
have to re-think and reform instructional practices and to develop new, collaborative
practices that will better serve all students through a new focus on information and global
perspectives. From this it becomes clear that a new content area should be added to
distinguish learning in world-class education: information.
Initial data collection and analysis (year one and two of five) provided excellent
opportunities to gain insight into questions raised in prior impact studies of school
librarians and school librarians. By studying the Kansas State Department of Education
Accountability Reports and Adequate Yearly Progress reports, a statewide picture of
licensed school libraries emerged. This picture served to connect dots between findings
from others states and the educational situations that exist in Kansas school buildings.
This study adds a longitudinal dimension that will go beyond earlier studies to
create over time a stronger body of evidence related to administrative decisions about
investing in school librarians. The quantitative data provides numeric evidence and
presents the opportunity for a correlation study and to identify confounding variables in
earlier studies. The qualitative data provides an insider view of integration of library and
technology and content standards and the roles school librarians in teaching information
literacy skills. This is particularly useful in immediately moving the field forward. It also
provides librarians with information that can be used to become involved in their school’s
improvement plan. Taken together, reporting on findings in this mixed methods approach
appears from observations to have already stimulated the tendency for some school
librarians to shift their thinking from a focus on a school library program-based mission to
learner-centered outcomes and students learning needs. Study findings generate a new
level of awareness of the need to collect data about how, and how much, librarians are
involved in student learning. Leaders in doing so are stepping forward with good
questions and approaches to gathering and reporting EPB.
Interview data provided an insider view of how school librarians can create new
opportunities for diverse school populations to learn from each other through sharing
interests and experiences, backgrounds and cultural knowledge. By mobilizing streams of
knowledge, we can transform school environments into international contexts for teaching
and learning. New insights from the data influenced plans for professional development on
this topic at the 2008 Kansas Summer Institute for School Librarians. Year two of five
data collection focuses on how school librarians as instructional partners can use
information and technology to teach basic skills and create curriculum-based programs that
cover a host of international issues and global perspectives.
Finally, the ongoing relationship among research, professional practice, and local
action is central to EPB. This has critical implications for disseminating findings.
Awareness of the need to share findings and related resources that can be continually
updated and easily accessed led to the construction of a Kansas Study of School Libraries
website, which includes survey and interview questions, reports of findings, new
instructional and assessment resources, and urls for blog and wiki for sharing of
practitioner generated exemplars. There is a master list of documents. This website will
become a database of EBP.
Findings from this study also have many implications for training of school
librarians and teachers. In fall 2008, Kansas post-Master of Library Science school library
media interns at Emporia State University (ESU) will be involved in sharing multiple
sources and types of evidence of student learning and ways of gathering evidence. Further,
pre-service elementary education teachers enrolled (required at ESU for program
completion) in a one-credit hour course titled “The Elementary Teacher and the Library
Media Specialist: Partners in Teaching Literature Appreciation and Information Literacy”
will be surveyed about their willingness and abilities to collaborate with the school librarian
and to take advantage of the school’s library. The challenge is to provide sustained
professional development and a commitment to EBP that will remove all doubt about the
importance of professional librarians and networked libraries in creating world-class
schools and education.
Visit the Kansas study’s website for continually updated information about this
study (Dow & Lakin, 2005). http://slim.emporia.edu/kschool/research/index.html
References
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Chapter
Library and information science is the discipline that studies the information communication chain: all aspects of the creation, organization, management, communication, and use of recorded information. It supports the professional activities of the collection disciplines, including information management, librarianship, archiving, and records management. Its core areas include information behavior, information organization and metadata, information seeking, information retrieval, information architecture, information society, information law and ethics, information management and policy, bibliometrics, and library services. Library and information science is regarded as a metadiscipline, with a wide variety of applicable theories, philosophical bases, and research methods. The discipline is undergoing changes as it adapts to new forms of documents and collections, and to new information environments.