Do school libraries really make a difference? The answer is no, they don’t.
There is ample evidence of efficacy. See, for example, the fine work has been done by the Library Research Service (LRS) in Colorado in documenting the linkages between school libraries and achievement (see: http://www.lrs.org/data-tools/school-libraries/impact-studies/). Many associations also provide access to studies, including the Internatioanl Association of School Librarianship (see: http://www.iasl-online.org/advocacy/make-a-difference.html).
Now look at the great infographic below, prepared by the LRS to aid advocates.
We are confusing school libraries with teacher-librarians.
What is your issue? There are and will likely always be school libraries, by whatever name we label them this year. They are rooms filled with books and computers, and perhaps staffed by technicians or volunteers.
The impact is derived from the teacher-librarian. Not only that, it is linked to specific teacher-librarian behaviors, viz., collaborating with colleagues around formal teaching and learning and providing informal staff development opportunities for colleagues. This is indeed consistent with studies of behaviors preferred by school principals.
So, if we want to make a difference in advocacy, shouldn’t we dump the rhetoric around school libraries and start advocating for teacher-librarians and insisting on those behaviors for the benefit of student learning? We are all to ready to point fingers at funders while letting teacher-librarians off the hook for doing what really makes a difference.
Added to this of course is the issue that others need to advocate for teacher-librarians as well or it appears as simple self-interest.
As in every other library sector, long-term, thoughtful programs of advocacy need to be developed and implemented to ensure sustainable resources.