Indiana needs to return to stocking school libraries well

2010-04-12T00:00:00Z Indiana needs to return to stocking school libraries well nwitimes.com
April 12, 2010 12:00 am

The Indiana Department of Education strives to ensure higher reading performance. But at the same time many schools are eliminating or downgrading their school libraries. This undercuts the state's efforts to improve reading.

To develop good readers, we should focus on reading skills. Learning to read is like learning to play basketball: First you learn the skills, then you need to practice them year after year.

Most students attend school, so it makes sense to have current, high-interest books, magazines and newspapers where skilled school librarians manage and promote them.

Consider the sobering findings in the 2008 Trend Analysis of Indiana K-8 Library Services Since the School Library Printed Materials Grant from the Indiana University Center for Evaluation & Education Policy. It reveals the effects of the grant and subsequent consequences following the elimination of state funds for books matched by local school corporations.

Research shows the connection between school library programs and increased student achievement. The federal Schools and Staffing Survey shows Indiana declining in national rankings in financing and stocking its K-12 school libraries.

Overwhelming evidence demonstrates school libraries make a difference. We need to focus our attention on these and their mission to provide books for students.

- Jack Humphrey, Director, Middle Grades Reading Network, University of Evansville

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