School Library Impact Studies

The Impact of School Librarians and Library Programs on Academic Achievement of Students:  The South Carolina Study

scaslKeith’s latest research on the impact of school libraries and librarians was pursued on behalf of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians, who commissioned a 2014 study.  This latest RSL study replicated the 2013 Pennsylvania study’s two phases.  First, the impact of libraries and librarians on state test results was assessed using available data from a 2013 statewide survey of school libraries.  Second, how school librarians impact the teaching of specific academic standards in reading and language arts was assessed based on original surveys of administrators, teachers, and librarians.  Rather than focusing on the usual subject-level test results, this study is using more detailed standard-level test results.

In 2013, Keith led a major, federally-funded, statewide school library impact study in Pennsylvania.  In 2011 and 2012, he led national and Colorado studies employing available data to document the impact of the Great Recession and its aftermath on school library staffing and thereby on students’ reading scores.

Supporting the Infrastructure Needs of 21st Century School Library Programs


In late 2012, Keith and his RSL Research Group colleagues, Marcia J. Rodney and Bill Schwarz, completed a 2011-12 National Leadership Grant research project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and led by a consortium of Pennsylvania organizations:

  • Health Sciences Library Consortium
  • Pennsylvania School Librarians Association
  • Education Law Center

Visit this link and click on the Project Research tab for access to the full report:

Something to Shout About: New research shows that more librarians means higher reading scores


The cover story in the September 2011 issue of School Library Journal reported on a new ground-breaking study by Keith. That article, co-authored with Linda Hofschire, may be accessed at:

Using federal data on the 50 states and DC, they examined the relationship between pre- and post-recession change in school library staffing and change in fourth grade reading scores. Not only was the fate of reading scores tied to that of school library staffing, but the relationship remained when change in overall school staffing was taken into account.

This article documents the fact that inferior gains or losses on reading scores were the prevailing fate of states in which schools cut librarian positions.

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 8.15.35 AMChange in School Librarian Staffing Linked with Change in CSAP Reading Performance, 2005 to 2011

A fourth Colorado school library impact study, published as one of the Library Research Service’s A Closer Look series, has taken this type of analysis down to the school building level employing more precise data on different types of school library staff (endorsed librarians, non-endorsed librarians, non-endorsed library assistants not supervised by a librarian) and more inclusive data on reading scores (including grades 3 through 10).

This study, also co-authored with Linda Hofschire, may be accessed at: