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Closing the Gaps: School Librarians and the What’s Hot Report

by Judi Moreillon
 | Feb 08, 2017

School librarians should not be surprised by two of the largest gaps identified by ILA’s 2017 What’s Hot in Literacy Report. These gaps present an opportunity for educators to work together to address both students’ access to books and content and literacy in resource-limited settings.

The 2017 What’s Hot survey responses were gathered from 1,600 respondents from 89 countries and territories. Using a Likert scale ranging from not at all hot/important to extremely hot/important, respondents identified gaps between what educators recognize as hot (or trendy) and what they believe should be hot (or more important). Two of the largest gaps in this year’s survey should be of particular interest to administrators, school librarians, and their classroom teacher and specialist instructional partners.

Second largest gap: access to books and content

In the report summary, access to books and content was an area respondents thought should be more important. One way ILA literacy educators and leaders can think about addressing this gap is to better understand the role school librarians and school librarians play in providing access. Research shows that in schools with state-certified school librarians facilitating library services students’ access to materials and their reading proficiency increases. In addition to classroom libraries, readers need well-stocked school libraries that provide students, educators, and families with the widest possible array of reading materials across content areas at all reading levels and in multiple formats.

Third largest gap: literacy in resource-limited settings

Equitable access for readers from all socioeconomic backgrounds is another area where school librarians and libraries can help close the gap. When schools and school districts make a commitment to hiring full-time state-certified school librarians and providing funding for school library collections, all students, including those in high-poverty and rural locations, can access resources and technology tools. In these schools, librarians partner with classroom teachers to provide equitable access to reading materials and coteach resource-rich literacy learning experiences.

Equity of opportunity

Literacy leaders have a shared responsibility and commitment to an equitable education for all students. We know access to resources increases learners’ opportunities for choice, voice, and empowerment through literacy. In the United States, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) contains specific language related to how school librarians and libraries ensure equitable access to resources for all students (ESSA, 2015, “Title IV, Part A”).

If you are a U.S. classroom teacher, specialist, school administrator, or educational decision maker concerned about the quality of students’ access to reading materials, please find out how you can ensure that school librarians’ work is specified in your state- or district-level ESSA Plan. By incorporating language related to school librarians and libraries in ESSA, we can collaborate to close the gaps identified by the ILA survey and support all students and educators in having access to the print and electronic resources and the instructional support they need to succeed.

moreillon headshotJudi Moreillon, MLS, PhD, is a literacies and libraries consultant, former school librarian, and retired school librarian educator. She tweets at CactusWoman and blogs at Building a Culture of Collaboration. She is the chair of the American Association of School Librarians Innovative Approaches to Literacy Task Force.


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