Since 1988, the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund has spearheaded a $40 million, nationwide effort to revitalize elementary and middle school libraries and make them the center of teaching and learning. Library Power provides for the physical renovation of library space, purchase of new books and other materials to update collections, and ongoing staff development for teachers, librarians and administrators. For Library Power newsletters and related documents, see the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Wallace Foundation Publications, Library Power Executive Summary: Findings from the National Evaluation of the National Library Power Program [http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Libraries/Pages/Findings-From-the-National-Library-Power-Program.aspx] .
Leading library and education researchers at the University of Wisconsin, led by Douglas Zweizig and Dianne Hopkins, both faculty from the School of Library and Information Studies, have been studying the initiative since 1994. Evaluation findings indicate that Library Power has produced school library programs that play an important role in supporting teaching and learning.
Highlights, which are outlined in Executive Summary: Findings from the Evaluation of the National Library Power Program include:
- through Library Power, book collections in participating schools improved considerably and the titles in the library better reflect the subjects being studied in class;
- the program helped refurbish school libraries so that they could accommodate more users and different kinds of simultaneous activities, such as reading, groups working together and computer use;
- implementation of flexible scheduling, letting students visit the library whenever they need to throughout the day instead of limiting use to regularly scheduled periods has resulted in more frequent visits to the library;
- throughout participating schools, librarians and teachers collaborated on planning and delivering instructional units, with librarians sometimes sharing responsibility for teaching;
- schools invested in professional development activities that taught principals, teachers and librarians how to integrate library and other information resources into teaching and learning;
- these changes and others helped schools engage students in meaningful and educationally rich learning activities.