Various Factors May Influence High School Student Use of Public Libraries

Robin E. Miller


Objective – To discover the factors that influence frequency of high school students’ usage of public libraries.

Design – Structural equation modeling (SEM) using the person-in-environment (PIE) framework to test latent variables and direct and indirect relationships between variables.

Setting – Public and school libraries in the United States.

Subjects – Three datasets: Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), provides data about individual students; Public Libraries Survey of 2004, then conducted by NCES, provides data about public libraries in the United States; and Summary Files 1 and 3 of U.S. Census 2000, provide neighborhood-level demographic data.

Methods – Using ArcGIS, the researcher prepared and linked three datasets. Data were analyzed using factor analysis, regression, weighted least squares, and path analysis in order to test relationships between variables exposed in three large datasets.

Main Results – Frequency of public library use by high school students may be influenced by several factors, including race and/or ethnicity and access to resources like school libraries, home computers, and public libraries with adequate service levels.

Conclusion – Increased funding for public library spaces and resources may be warranted by the finding that high levels of public library service may increase high school students’ use of public libraries, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods.


public libraries; high school students

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