March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School Libraries Boost Student Literacy, Australian Survey Finds

The 2013 Australian School Library Survey, conducted by Softlink on behalf of Australia’s school library associations, has again revealed a positive relationship between a school’s literacy results and its library’s resourcing levels, the company announced today. As it has since 2010, the annual survey found that schools with high national average reading literacy scores for its students report higher levels of school library funding and staffing, while schools with lower scores have lower library funding and staffing.

The study is an examination of key trends and issues impacting school libraries across Australia, especially the ways that a school library’s budget and staffing levels influence students’ overall academic achievement and literacy levels. The study includes primary, secondary and K–12 school libraries, with representation from public, private, and parochial schools among the respondents.

The survey also found that:

• Approximately 28 percent of schools’ library staffing levels decreased in 2013, while 63 percent of all schools’ staffing levels remained unchanged.

• More than a quarter of surveyed schools (28 percent) have purchased ebooks in the past year, and 55 percent indicate they will “definitely” or “most probably” purchase ebooks within the next 12 months.

• Approximately 44 percent of teacher librarians say half or more of their student population owns a personal mobile device (iPod, iPad, smart phone, or other tablet).

• Up to a third of all schools encourage students to bring their own digital devices for use at school.

More than 800 schools participated in the study, according to Softlink’s COO Nathan Godfrey.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.

Building Literacy-Rich Communities
Hosted by Library Journal and School Library JournalStronger Together is a national gathering of thought leaders and innovators from across the country who will share where and how partnerships between school districts and public libraries are having success. Join us May 10–12 at the University of Nebraska Omaha, as we explore the impact these collaborations are having on the institutions, communities, and kids they serve.


  1. Maryalice Leister says:

    For me, this is so timely. My grandchildren’s charter school has quietly planned to close the school library next school year, distribute books to classrooms, and not provide a literacy focus. I am so upset. My children and grandchildren are all voracious readers because books and libraries were a critical part of their lives. This particular school, while it provides an important alternative to the urban public school district which struggles horribly, does not have a stellar standardized testing record (and I do dislike all the test focus as many educators do). Scores are low, students are discipline problems, and the librarian, after 3 long years of focus and creativity, has students begging to go to library. And now this.
    Has this happened to others? Despite research such as this one, we drop everything creative–art, music, library, creative writing–I wish I knew the point and someone could justify to me why a charter school “can’t afford to embrace a reading focus.”
    Obviously, I am impassioned. I am a lifelong English educator, creative writing instructor, and author. The exclusion of libraries shouldn’t ever be an option in schools. Thank you for posting this study.