Education Report Roundup

School Libraries

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — March 22, 2005 1 min read

The school library, a luxury in the elementary schools of the 1950s, is a standard feature today, but the proportion of public high schools with library media centers has slid over the past half-century, according to a federal report on the history of the institutions.

“Fifty Years of Supporting Children’s Learning: A History of Public School Libraries and Federal Legislation from 1953–2000" is available online from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Ninety-five percent of public elementary schools had libraries during the 1999-2000 school year, compared with just 24 percent in 1953-54. Among secondary schools, however, just 87 percent reported having libraries a few years ago, a drop from 95 percent five decades ago.

The report, released this month by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, also contains statistics on school libraries in each state and changes in those resources since the 1950s.