A school library (or a school library media center) is a library within a school where students, staff, and often, parents of a public or private school have access to a variety of resources. The goal of the school library media center is to ensure that all members of the school community have equitable access “to books and reading, to information, and to information technology.” A school library media center “uses all types of media… is automated, and utilizes the Internet [as well as books] for information gathering.” School libraries are distinct from public libraries because they serve as “learner-oriented laboratories which support, extend, and individualize the school’s curriculum… A school library serves as the center and coordinating agency for all material used in the school.”
Researchers have demonstrated that school libraries have a positive impact on student achievement through the more than 60 studies that have been conducted in 19 U.S. states and one Canadian province. The major finding of these studies was that students with access to a well-supported school library media program with a qualified school library media specialist, scored higher on reading assessments regardless of their socio-economic statuses. In addition, a study conducted in Ohio revealed that 99.4% of students surveyed believed that their school librarians and school library media programs helped them succeed in school. A report that reported similar conclusions was compiled by Michele Lonsdale in Australia in 2013.