Key Findings and Recommendations in School Library Report

By Judi Paradis, Librarian at Thomas R. Plympton Elementary School

The Special Commission on School Library Services in Massachusetts submitted its final report to the Legislature this month.  George Comeau served on this Commission representing the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  The report of the Commission includes key findings regarding equity and access issues in the Commonwealth’s school libraries.  The Commission provided legislators with a series of recommendations for improving equity in Massachusetts public schools, and provided a comprehensive plan and timeline for their implementation.  In a letter to the Massachusetts Legislature, the Commissioners urged legislators to accept their recommendations and work with DESE to ensure their implementation.

The Commission, which included legislators, members of the library and educational communities, and community members, contacted two respected researchers to conduct a comprehensive academic study to evaluate school library programs for equity using a series of data points specified in legislation passed by the Massachusetts Senate in 2013 (Bill S. 1906).  The leading researcher, Dr. Carol A. Gordon, is a retired Associate Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University where she served as the Co-Director of the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL).  She was assisted by Dr. Robin Cicchetti, Head Librarian at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.  The study was distributed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and data analysis assistance was provided by CISSL.

The Massachusetts School Library Study: Equity ad Access for Students in the Commonwealth provides a report of the research conducted by Drs. Gordon and Cicchetti along with five broad recommendations that as goals for a long-term plan.  The complete report is available on the website of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and you can find it here.  Analysis of the data and the resulting findings show there are statistically significant differences in measures of status and equity for students from urban and rural districts compared with students from suburban districts.  Based on these findings, the Commission  recommends:

Recommendation 1.0. Improve Access to School Libraries and School Librarians

  • Recommendation 1A. Every public school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a school library and a certified school librarian.
  • Recommendation 1B. Establish the position and responsibilities of the School Library Curriculum Specialist at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • Recommendation 1C. Support a culture of inquiry in schools that sustains inquiry and resource-based learning, collaborative teaching, and the integration of digital technology to improve access for all students

Recommendation 2.0. Improve Access to Information Resources in School Libraries:

  • Recommendation 2A. Increase access to print resources in school libraries.
  • Recommendation 2B. Increase access to electronic resources in school libraries.

Recommendation 3.0. Improve Access to Information Technology:

  • Recommendation 3A. Improve access to Internet and digital devices in school libraries.
  • Recommendation 3B. Increase access to Information Technology through staffing.

Recommendation 4.0. Improve Access to Library Instruction and Help.

  • Recommendation 4A. Promote best instructional practices in the school library.

Recommendation 5.0. Improve Access to Funding:

Funding cuts across all the dimensions of school librarianship.  Guidelines for Budget Allocation and Expenditure should be developed to support Recommendations 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.

The Commission thanks The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for providing support for this important work.  We look forward to seeing our recommendations adopted to improve school library programs for all Massachusetts public school students.

Keen Eye for Detail Sets Shrewsbury Apart

Shrewsbury’s revamped library held its grand opening on September 21. This renovation and expansion project made room for more computers, a new community meeting space, group meeting areas, and a courtyard adjoining the children’s room.

The new space configuration and furniture setup pays homage to the design details and charm of the historic 1903 building while also accommodating the needs of present-day patrons. Self-checkout machines, plentiful power outlets, and many options for seating – whether visitors want to read for hours, charge their devices, study, or just relax in front of the window for a moment – allow for customizable, user-centered experiences in the library.

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries) Relaunches

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries), the online portal for statewide library resources & services first launched in 2007, has been completely redesigned. We wanted to keep it simple and user-friendly while also offering personalized access to catalogs and collections.

screenshot of massachusetts libraries website homepage

Visitors are first prompted to find their local library by entering a zip code, town, or library name. The new site is then customized with access to their home network’s catalog and the Commonwealth Catalog, making it easy to search both locally and throughout the state. It also helps visitors find ebook collections and provides immediate access to online articles. And there’s a new A-Z title list of all research journals, magazines, and newspapers available through our statewide subscription.

In the Your Local Library section, visitors can find out about classes, events, and workshops – such as summer reading and early learning programs, high school equivalency exam prep, and English learning groups – at nearby libraries and literacy centers. The Digital Collections page highlights digital libraries and special online collections, great resources for teachers and students looking to explore history in Massachusetts and beyond.

We’ll be testing the site with users and consistently making adjustments throughout the coming months, so we welcome any and all feedback on the new site! Send your thoughts and comments to answers@mblc.state.ma.us.

Hello world!

This is a new blog from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners about what’s happening in the library world, both at the state level and beyond.

We’ll be writing about our partnership with libraries around the state, exploring the revolution in library programs, services, and building design that’s reshaping the way we do business in the 21st century. We’ll also be raising awareness about how libraries help bolster our cities and towns through early learning and literacy programs, tech training, community partnerships, and more.

Interested in writing a guest post?
Whether you’re a librarian who wants to share special events or news about your library, an educator with a passion for reading or lifelong learning, or a tech employer who values 21st century skills, we welcome contributions from all perspectives.

Here’s what we’re looking for:
• 500 words or less
• Informal, personal writing style – like you’d expect from a blog!
• Pictures and videos are always welcome.
• Please note: We may lightly edit posts for brevity and tone.

Send your submissions here.