The School and Library Improvement Block Grant
State funding for California school libraries began with passage of the California Public School Library Act of 1998, which brought the first ongoing allocation for planned, methodical development of school library collections across the state. The passage of Assembly Bill 825, Chapter 871, in 2005–06 moved state library funding into a new categorical block grant called the School and Library Improvement Block Grant.
In February 2009, the funding for this program became unrestricted or flexible in its use pursuant to SBX3 4. The bill authorizes LEAs to use funds from about 40 categorical programs “for any educational purpose” over a five-year period ending July 1, 2013. The statutory language establishing this transferability authority states that LEAs using the flexibility provision “shall be deemed to be in compliance with the program and funding requirements contained in statutory, regulatory, and provisional language.” (SBx3 4 Section 15). For additional information, please refer to the Action on 2008 and 2009 Budget Acts Web page.
The Importance of School Libraries
Substantial research indicates that a school library with appropriate staffing, adequate funding, and a rich collection of materials in various formats makes a positive impact on literacy as well as on overall academic achievement. Summaries of current research related to school libraries are available on the Library Research Web page and the American Library Association Web page.
The school library plays an important role in preparing students to live and learn in a world of information. Since 1988, the mission of school library media programs across the country has been to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information by taking the following steps:
- Providing intellectual and physical access to materials in all formats
- Providing instruction to foster competence and stimulate interest in reading, viewing, and using information and ideas
- Working with other educators to design learning strategies to meet the needs of individual students (Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning, 1998)
At the heart of state funding for school libraries is acknowledgment of the critical need for more and better books for students to read. Studies show a positive relationship between library quality (school and public) and the amount read, as well as a relationship with reading competence. Better libraries mean more literacy development for younger readers as well as for high school students. The English–Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools calls for students to read extensively on their own (one-half million words annually by grade four; one million words annually by the end of middle school; and two million words annually by the end of grade twelve).
Statistical Snapshot of California School Libraries
The CDE Online School Library Survey collected information about school libraries in 2008–09. The following statistics are based on those data as well as data collected by the California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS). When possible, national data are provided for comparison:
- Number of libraries—Among California public schools, 97 percent have a place designated as the library, although staffing, collections, and programs range from exemplary to substandard. • Staffing—Approximately 23 percent of California schools have a credentialed teacher librarian on campus part time or longer; the majority of professional staffing is found at the high school level. (A teacher librarian has both a California teaching credential and a California teacher librarian services credential). In 2008–09, 88 percent of California schools reported classified staff in the library.
- Library books—The average number of school library books per kindergarten through grade twelve student in California is 18.1. In 1986, the number reported per student was ten. Nationally, the top quarter of school libraries average 26 books per student, according to School Libraries Count! a national survey of school library media programs. You can view the entire survey on the School Libraries Count! Web site.
- Age of collection—The age of library books is as important as the number of books available to students. In 1995 the average copyright date of a California school library nonfiction book was 1972. In 2004–05 the average copyright date rose to 1993 (and remained there through 2006–07). In 2008-09 the average copyright date dropped to 1992. For a current chart of the number and age of California school library books, visit the CDE School Library Web page.
- Book costs—The average cost of a children’s and young adult hardcover book in 2009 was $21.25. For a chart comparing the average cost of a children’s and young adult’s book with state funding for school libraries, visit the CDE School Library Web page.
- Funding—The primary source of funding for 48 percent of California school libraries comes from fund-raising. For 44 percent, local general funds support the library.
- Electronic access to resources—Eighty-nine percent of the 4,300 responding school libraries reported the use of an electronic catalog and automated circulation system. Eighty-two percent reported providing access to the Internet. Internet access increases with grade levels: 77 percent of school libraries reported
offering access at the elementary school level, 96 percent at the middle school level, and 96 percent at the high school level (CDE Online School Library Survey for 2008–09).
- Need for books—The Internet does not replace the need for books and often increases the demand for up-to-date library materials. Library resources come in various formats, including print and electronic, and are selected based on the best format for the intended user and use.
- Library hours—The average number of hours that a California school library is open to students is 26 hours per week. Seventy-seven percent of school libraries reported being open during breaks, 70 percent during lunch, and 59 percent before school. Only 6 percent of schools reported having the library available during summer school.
For Additional Information
- Standards for the 21st Century Learner is the latest document from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) to provide a foundation for a strong library media program in every school. The association’s goal is to create school libraries where students will research expertly, think critically, problem-solve well, read enthusiastically, and use information ethically. This document is available on the AASL Web page.
- Literacy Campaigns: Access to Books Is the First Step by Stephen Krashen. This resource is available on the Literacy Campaign: Access to Books is the First Step Web page.
- Planning for strong school library programs: For links to planning guides, rubrics, and related articles, visit the American Library Association Web page.
- Academic achievement and school libraries: For links to current research reports, summaries, and articles, including studies conducted in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Alaska, and Massachusetts, visit the American Library Association Web page.
- Check It Out! Assessing School Library Media Programs: A Guide for District Education Policy and Implementation Teams (1998) was designed by the CDE to help districts and schools assess their school libraries and the policies that guide them. It is available for purchase from CDE Press and will be available to download from CDE School Libraries Web page.
- Locations of effective school library media programs in California: Visit the California School Library Association Web page and view recent issues of “Good Ideas.”
- Library media teacher credential information: Visit the Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Web page .
For more information on school libraries, contact Cynthia Gunderson, Education Administrator, Curriculum Frameworks Unit, at 916-319-0451 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information is available on the CDE School Libraries Web page.