Canadian School Libraries and Teacher Librarians: Results from the 2003/04 Information and Communications Technologies in Schools Survey
The Daily summary of the report is at http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/050504/d050504a.htm
Based on a survey of 6,700 school principals across Canada, this report examines the existence of school libraries, the number of teacher-librarians and library technicians, as well as library expenditures in all provinces and territories in 2003/04. The report extrapolates the survey findings to all 15,500 elementary and secondary schools in Canada.
Overall, 93% of Canadian schools have libraries, with a much larger percentage of public schools (95%) than private schools (75%) having libraries. Total spending on collections development was $56 million in 2003/04, including $43 million on physical collections, $7 million on audio-visual materials and $6 million on electronic materials.
On a per-school basis, median expenditures are low ($2,000). Median expenditures on audio-visual material are only $200, while median expenditures on electronic materials are $0. (The median value is the point where one-half of libraries spent more and one-half spent less on their collections. The “mean” per-school spending values are higher than these median values.)
The report details the vast differences in spending across the country: per-school median spending on physical collections is highest in Saskatchewan ($3,600) and Alberta ($3,000) and lowest in Nova Scotia ($1,400) and Newfoundland and Labrador($1,000). On a per-student basis, mean expenditures on physical collections are highest in Saskatchewan ($23) and Alberta ($20) and lowest in PEI ($8) and Nova Scotia ($7).
Most schools (62%) have no teacher-librarian on staff, while 25% have a part-time teacher-librarian and 13% have a full-time teacher-librarian in2003/04. On a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis, this works out to 0.25 FTE teacher-librarians per school. This is very similar to the 0.26 FTE library technicians per school. Teacher-librarians are more common in secondary schools (0.41 FTE teacher-librarians per school) than in elementary schools (0.23). Library technicians are also more common in secondary (0.44) than elementary schools (0.19).
On a provincial level, PEI has the highest number of teacher-librarians per school (0.56 FTE), compared with only 0.07 in Nova Scotia and Alberta and 0.03 in Quebec, where there are a relatively high number of teacher non-librarians (0.12 FTE) and professional librarians (0.07 FTE) devoted to each school’s library. On a per-student basis, schools in PEI and BC have the highest number of teacher-librarians (1.60 and 1.53 per 1,000 students), with Alberta (0.19) and Nova Scotia (0.14) having the lowest number per 1,000 students.
The report highlights how provinces with low numbers of teacher-librarians have the highest number of library technicians per school (as is the case in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Manitoba). This implies that some provinces may attempt to use library technicians as substitutes for teacher-librarians. In a number of schools, principals indicated that volunteers help operate the library. In some cases, volunteers alone “staffed” the library.
The report also probes for a link between teacher-librarians in each province and student assessments, the use of specialized technology, and public school funding. Given the broad, exploratory nature of this research, the report makes no direct correlations or conclusions between teacher-librarians and student assessment or public school expenditures. The report does find a correlation between the number of teacher-librarians and the integration of specialized technology applications in teaching practices. However, the report cautions that both the number of teacher-librarians and the use of specialized technology may be driven by a common factor: school funding. The correlative links may therefore not be causal. Given that this was the first such survey, a trend analysis was not possible.