A 2022 study by Rutgers University found that first-year college students who had prior high school research experience, especially those from schools with certified librarians, felt more confident in their academic research skills and performed better in using research tools and strategies, such as information and digital literacy, and the difference between a primary and secondary source of information.

“Our students need to develop the skills to learn on their own. [They need] the thinking skills to be able to discern information that they can believe, in order to become digital citizens,” Barbara Stripling, cofounder of the Philadelphia Alliance to Restore School Libraries (PARSL) said. “They need to be taught these skills, they need opportunities to practice them, and it needs to become who they are. They need to understand the importance of looking at multiple perspectives.”

PARSL is a nonprofit organization staffed by retired educators and librarians. It operates without external funding, relying solely on volunteers. The organization wants to improve public school libraries in Philadelphia, aiming to improve academic performance. PARSL produced a white paper earlier in 2023 addressing the link between students’ reading abilities and the shortage of librarians, proposing solutions that involve collaboration with the school district and City Council to secure additional funding.

“We will continue to advocate for adequate and equitable funding for education so that historically underfunded districts, like Philadelphia, have the resources necessary to provide all students with access to the 21st-century learning environments, including libraries and Instructional Media Centers,” Orbanek said.

Read the full article about limited access to school libraries by Ella Lathan at The 74.