June 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School Librarian State of the Union

A national overview of the profession, by the numbers

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of U.S. school librarians has declined 19 percent since 2000. While the field is shedding jobs, school librarian positions are also evolving into other ones with different names—media specialist, digital learning specialist, technology integrator, and information literacy teacher, for example. Whatever has caused this evolution—structural change in the profession, statistical artifacts attributable to changing perceptions, education policy decisions with broad impact—it is already well under way. How will the profession respond?

Keith Curry Lance
School Librarian, Where Art Thou?

Keith Curry Lance studies the evolving profession of school librarianship.

“Most everyone in our profession is aware that school librarian numbers have dipped, but we haven’t known the numbers or a time line for these losses. What has been happening?”

Finding Data

There’s Little National Data About School Librarians. What Happened?

“We’ve only had one source of information on school librarians since 2012. Two other much more detailed national efforts to collected data on school libraries and librarians ended that year.”

Debra Kachel
A Perfect Storm Impacts School Librarian Numbers

Debra Kachel is an affiliate faculty for Antioch University Seattle’s Library Media Endorsement program and an adjunct for McDaniel College in Westminster, MD.

“Several circumstances created a confluence of conditions that contributed to school librarian cuts. Here’s a look at likely issues at three levels—national, state, and local/school district.”
Sarah Butler Jessen
Charter Schools, Segregation, and School Library Access

Sarah Butler Jessen is a faculty member at the University of Southern Maine and the founder and executive director of the White Barn Center for Research.

“Research shows that choice reforms, such as charters, have perpetuated a deeply inequitable system where students are increasingly segregated by race and socioeconomic status. [These trends] inform the national trends in school libraries—but how?”