Is there value in Teacher-Librarians?

With a title like this, I’m sure to draw at least a read from Teacher-Librarians, I hope!

The annual People for Education’s Annual Report was released this week.  You can read about it here.  The report attempts to give a snapshot of attitudes and statistics from Ontario schools for the past year.  The report has been produced for a number of years and indicates elementary school data goes back to 1997 and secondary school data to 2000.

The survey questionnaire and methods are laid out in the report as well as conclusions and recommendations from the group.  It makes for some very interesting reading.  I’ve been through it a number of times and find myself asking new questions each time through it.  A thoughtful document should do that.

I had a convergence of a couple things recently.  At the front of the document, there is a Quick Facts section designed to provide some highlights of what is to come.  There are some statistics quoted about school libraries.


• 56% of Ontario elementary schools have a teacher-librarian, compared to 80% in 1998.
• 98% of elementary schools in the GTA have a teacher-librarian, compared to 11% in Northern Ontario and 25% in Eastern Ontario.

“Annual Report on Schools 2012.” People for Education. Web. 01 June 2012. <;.

You can draw whatever conclusions you will from the data and drill into the document for a deeper explanation and conclusion from the results reported.

And, Mashable just published this infographic.

“Featured in Social Media.” Mashable. Web. 01 June 2012. <;.

Before I go any further, I’ll declare my slant.  I’ve always had access to a great Teacher-Librarian who really helped make the connection between my Computer Science classroom and the Resource Centre.  I’ve also come to work quite closely with some very inspirational Teacher-Librarians and have co-presented with some of the best at OTF and Minds on Media events.  Bottom line; I’m probably not terribly objective on this topic.

So, I look at the statistics from People for Education and I have to ask…

  • Are students in Northern and Eastern Ontario inherently disadvantaged by not having access?
  • Are the 2% of schools in the GTA or the 44% province-wide equally as disadvantaged?
  • Can a school pick up the slack and achieve the same sort of results without having a Teacher-Librarian?
  • Are the schools without a Teacher-Librarian as effective as ones that aren’t or have they found a better way?
  • Are the numbers generated due to financial reasons versus some other educational reason?
  • Is it true, as quoted in the report from a school principal that “the library is no longer the hub of learning?”

With all the slicing and dicing of data done in the report, there’s one thing that I think would be very valuable in helping address the statistics and the value that we can infer from them.

Since Ontario puts so much value into EQAO testing, how do schools with a Teacher-Librarian perform on the tests versus schools that do not have a Teacher-Librarian in place?  Can a library / literacy program be addressed without a Teacher-Librarian in place?

2 thoughts on “Is there value in Teacher-Librarians?

  1. Hi Doug!
    You knew I couldn’t resist answering this! You ask some good questions but I do have a firm answer to your second-last query (how schools with a TL perform on EQAO). In 2006 a study was conducted by Queens University professors and they state “Our findings identified an association between school library staffing and student achievement on large-scale measures of reading achievement. Of even more interest was the finding of associations between school library staff and students’ attitude towards reading. Children in schools with a professionally staffed teacher librarian had more positive attitudes towards reading.” Blackett/Klinger, 2006, as found on page 4 of “Exemplary School Libraries in Ontario” 2009. I’ll let other people chime in on the other questions. Thank you for opening the discussion!


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