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Make the Connection: Quality School Library Media Programs Impact Academic Achievement in Iowa

For many years, the declining condition of library media (LM) programs in Iowa public schools has been a cause for concern to the Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEAs). As part of a campaign to reverse this alarming trend, leaders of these organizations resolved to document the impact of LM programs in Iowa schools and to share this information with school decision-makers for library media programs—school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, even library media specialists.

In 1993, the Library Research Service of the Colorado State Library published a landmark study, The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement. By 2000, it was widely known that successor studies had been completed in Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, and that an Oregon study was in progress. Realizing the potential for such a study in Iowa, the AEA media directors raised funding for this purpose.

In 2000, the Iowa AEA media directors contracted for this study with the team of researchers responsible for the other three state studies in progress: Marcia J. Rodney, the principal investigator for this study; Keith Curry Lance; and Christine Hamilton-Pennell. In addition to confirming in Iowa the findings of the first Colorado study, this project also sought to explore several issues that were being explored in the other state studies. Those issues included:

  • identifying characteristics of library media (LM) specialists and programs that affect academic achievement,
  • assessing the contribution of collaboration between teachers and LM specialists to the effectiveness of LM programs, and
  • examining the growing role of information technology in LM programs, particularly licensed databases and the Internet.

On all three of those counts, this Iowa study was decidedly successful. The document reported comprehensively on the project, putting it into perspective with past research as well as the American Association of School Librarians’ new standards, Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (1998).

Iowa AEA Online is one initiative that addresses the recommendations presented in the Iowa study.

To download a PDF file of the complete "Make the Connection" study click here.



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