Snapshot of School Librarian Roles during School Closures

Last week, AASL launched a survey to capture school librarians’ role during these unprecedented times of school closures.* Just as school librarians adapt to each shift in the changing education landscape, they are responding to the current remote learning environment to meet the needs of their learners.

AASL received responses from all 50 states, with representation from every school setting, grade level, and student population. Respondents detailed the impact that school closures are having on almost one million students.

At the time of the survey, more than 70 percent of respondents expected to return to school in the 2019-­2020 school year.

Key Survey Findings

Respondents reported that student access to technology is a challenge during this virtual learning setting, highlighting current inequities in education.

This graph represents respondents’ percentage of students served and their level of access to technology:

  • Has full access to technology and Internet for personal use in their home (laptop or desktop computer): 49%
  • Has shared access to technology and Internet for use in their home (shared computer): 25%
  • Has access through mobile device (tablet, phone): 22%
  • Does not have reliable access: 12%
  • Does not have any access: 10%

A large majority of respondents reported expanding access to online resources for students, extending check-out periods (noting books will be due when school opens again) and offering virtual assistance (e-mail, phone, chat, etc.).

  • Expanding online resources available to students: 87.97%
  • Offering alternative check-out procedures (photos, online forms, etc.): 8.02%
  • Extending check-out period: 76.76%
  • Delivering resources “on foot” (including hand delivery, book mobile, at meal delivery, etc.): 7.61%
  • Making curbside pick-up available: 6.64%
  • Virtual assistance (e-mail, phone, chat, etc.): 85.62%
  • Virtual classes: 52.97%

School librarians are making themselves available to students through a variety of virtual means, as the following graphic shows.

  • Virtual office hours using webcam: 41.68%
  • E-mail: 94.74%
  • Phone: 29.73%
  • Chat/instant messaging: 34.85%
  • Text messaging: 18.21%
  • Online form: 26.17%

School librarians continue to instruct learners on key skills, including:

  • Research: 21%
  • Digital resources: 17%
  • Digital citizenship: 8%

School librarians are also continuing to foster reading development through virtual book clubs, storytimes, and read-alouds (38%). Even gaming (2%) and makerspace activities (3%) are proceeding during this virtual learning period.

School librarians are adapting to changes in instruction and are offering the same services and activities provided during regular school days, including:

  • Offering resource curation and technology tools for “classroom” instruction: 84.89%
  • Expanding online resources: 80.37%
  • Virtual assistance: 82.06%
  • Virtual meetings/collaborative events: 74.29%

Breakdown of Survey Demographics

*The survey launched on Monday, March 30, and closed on Monday, April 6, with 843 respondents. The responses are a snapshot in time, and the survey will be repeated with updates reported by AASL.



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