Flexible Scheduling May Have a Positive Impact on School Library Circulation

Ann Medaille

Abstract


A Review of:
Gavigan, K., Pribesh, S., & Dickinson, G. (2010). Fixed or flexible schedule? Schedule impacts and school library circulation. Library and Information Science Research, 32(2), 131-37.

Objective – To determine whether a significant, positive relationship exists between flexible scheduling in elementary school library media centers and per-pupil circulation statistics.

Design – Online survey.

Setting – Library media centers in public elementary schools in two states of the United States.

Subjects – A total of 88 elementary school library media specialists completed the survey.

Methods – A 22-question online survey was created using Inquisite software. A link to the survey was sent via e-mail to a 600-person random sample of public school library media specialists whose names were drawn from the memberships of the North Carolina School Library Media Association and the Virginia Educational Media Association, with combined memberships totalling approximately 2,000. A random sample of 600 was chosen to provide a 95% confidence level with a confidence interval of plus or minus three points. The survey included questions about school schedules (flexible, partially flexible, or fixed), collection size, circulation statistics, total student enrolment, school type (elementary, middle, or high), school location (urban, rural, or suburban), percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch, numbers of full-time professional library media specialists employed at the school, access procedures, and library closure information. The survey response rate was 29.3% (176 respondents). Because fixed versus flexible scheduling is an issue that primarily affects elementary schools, the authors further narrowed their subject pool to 88 elementary school respondents. Data were analyzed using SPSS 16.0 statistical software. Correlation analysis, including the analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), was used to compare differences in the three scheduling types and to control for other variables (such as location, socioeconomic status, collection size, staffing, days closed, and others) that may affect circulation.

Main Results – Of the 88 elementary school responses, 33 (38%) had fixed schedules, 44 (50%) had partially flexible schedules, and 11 (13%) had totally flexible schedules. Fifty-three schools supplied data regarding per-pupil check-out, and the average number of books checked out per student per year was 52, across all types of schools. The number of book check-outs per pupil differed according to schedule type. Students in schools with fixed schedules checked out an average of 51 books per year, those in schools with partially flexible schedules checked out 46 books per year, and those in schools with totally flexible schedules checked out 71 books per year. When the authors adjusted the data for other factors affecting circulation (such as location, socioeconomic status, collection size, staffing, and others), they found that students in schools with fixed schedules checked out 57 books per year, those in schools with partially flexible schedules checked out 68 books per year, and those in schools with totally flexible schedules checked out 102 books per year. The authors concluded that schedule accounts for 21% of variation in the rate of book check-out per pupil.

Conclusion – These results suggest that the type of schedule used in elementary school library media centers does have a significant relation to circulation statistics. Specifically, when library media centres employ flexible scheduling, students are likely to check out more books per year on average. Although these results are not generalizable, this study provides much-needed research into the relationship between scheduling and circulation, and establishes a basis for further studies in this area.

Keywords


flexible scheduling; school libraries; media centers

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