April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

NEA Approves National School Library Study

The National Education Association (NEA) is set to launch a study to measure student access to school librarians and libraries. The project was approved by its Representative Assembly at the organization’s annual meeting that just ended in Orlando, FL.

The study will examine issues around school libraries and staffing, from current state laws and the requirements they lay out for schools to the ratio of “professionally qualified school librarians to student, by state,” according to NEA’s web site. The educational advocacy group will also look at additional topics, including school library closings—how many, the grade levels at schools affected by shuttered libraries, as well as school librarian positions that have been lost.

NEA has long recognized the importance of student access to school librarians, and school libraries. But the organization is actively working with U.S. lawmakers this week to ensure that the language in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) is “broad enough to include access to school librarians,” says Mary Kusler, NEA’s director of government relations.

“Certainly [student] access to trained librarians is really critical,” says Kusler. “Once the bill gets through the Senate and the House, and to the President’s desk, and the dialogue moves to all 50 states, that every state legislature and governor is aware that trained school librarians are important to students and critical to impacting outcomes.”

As part of that effort, NEA’s Opportunity Dashboard now mentions access to librarians, media specialists, and library/media studies as among the indicators to track and measure student success. Although the new language does not represent any change of policy or even the spirit of the fact sheet, NEA’s librarian members requested the addition, which was just updated within the last week.

NEA notes the study will cost an additional $36,500 to run, and will be “published through digital channels,” according to the site.

Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at www.laurenbarack.com.



  1. Sheri Machel says:

    Awesome news!!

    Public School Librarian

  2. Deb Gerber says:

    Is there a way for a current SLMS to help out with the study?

  3. Sundi Pierce says:

    This is awesome news! Thank you, NEA.

  4. Margaret Altman says:

    This is great and long overdue. Is there a way working media specialists/librarian can help on the study? I would love to.

  5. Debra McCracken says:

    I am glad another study is planned, but, seriously, how many studies does it take?? Every study done shows the value of school librarians, in test scores, in grades and other factors. I inserted a cut and paste bibliography taken from our Clark County School Librarians Association. Its past president mounted some studies and articles on its website, and from doing even a cursory Google search one can find lots of resources related to this topic. I am feeling like there is a plethora of research studies, and yet school librarians keep getting positions cut, and school libraries are closed or run by volunteers–such a disservice to our children.

    Clark County School District Policy 6161. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from

    Clark County School Librarians Association, Articles of Incorporation. Accessible through Interact, the by-laws are kept in the Library Services folder.

    Harvey, C. (2011). What you can do to support school libraries in crisis. Huffington Post. Retrieved from
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-harvey-ii/post_2725_b_ 1136618.html?

    Lance, K. & Hofschire, L. (2012). School librarian staffing linked with gains in student achievement, 2005 to 2011. Teacher Librarian, 39(6), 15-19.

    Library Committee, CCSD Policy 6150. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from

    Open Communication and Free Exchange of ideas, CCSD Policy 4391. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from

    School libraries work! (2008). Jefferson City, MO: Scholastic Library Publishing.

    Skorkowsky, P. (2014, March 5). Message from Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky to librarians on CCSD Librarians Day. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from
    http://ccsd.net/district/news/employees/2014/ mar/5/message-from-superintendent-pat-skorkowsky-to-librarians-onccsd-librarians-day-march-5

    The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) is a permanent,
    independent agency of the Federal government charged by Public Law 91-345 to advise the President and
    Congress on national and international library and information policies, to appraise and assess the
    adequacies and deficiencies of library and information resources and services, and to develop overall plans
    for meeting national library and information needs.

  6. Julia Johnson says:

    This is wonderful news. Wish I had been in FL at the RA to rally support. NEA members, thank you.