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National Center for Education Statistics

Celebrating School Library Month: A Look at Library Media Centers

 

April is School Library Month, which recognizes the important role that school librarians and libraries play in K-12 education. More than 90 percent of public elementary and secondary schools have a library media center, according to the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), which collects data about school librarians and libraries. In honor of School Library Month, here are some facts and figures from the NTPS.

 

Library staff

  • Public schools employed approximately 56,000 full-time librarians and library media specialists in the 2015–16 school year, as well as an additional 17,600 part-time librarians and library media specialists.

  • Since there were more library media centers (82,300) than librarians and since some schools may employ more than one librarian, not every school with a library media center also employed a school librarian. On average, had 0.7 full-time and 0.2 part-time librarians and library media specialists.

 

Library media centers

  • In the 2015–16 school year, 91 percent of public schools had a school library media center. Overall, there were approximately 82,300 public elementary and secondary schools with a library media center.

  • The presence of school library media centers varied by the grade levels taught at schools. In the 2015–16 school year, higher percentages of primary schools (96 percent) and middle schools (95 percent) had library media centers than high schools (80 percent) or combined schools (79 percent).

  • The presence of school library media centers also varied by the type of community in which schools were located. About 88 percent of city-based schools had a library media center in the 2015–16 school year, which was lower than the percentage of schools located in suburban areas (92 percent) and rural areas (94 percent).

  • While the vast majority of public schools have a library media center, the percentage fell slightly between school years 2003–04 and 2015–16, from 94 percent to 91 percent, respectively (see Figure 1 below).

 


Figure 1. Percentage of public schools reporting the presence of a library or library media center: 2003–04 to 2015–16

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), “Public School Data File,” 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Data File,” 2015–16.


 

More information about school libraries, public libraries, and academic libraries is available through the Library Statistics Program and the NCES Fast Fact on Libraries. In addition, analysts can access these data using DataLab to conduct their own analyses of NTPS and other National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) surveys.

 

By Maura Spiegelman