Libraries and librarians survey results released

by SOURCE EveryLibrary Institute

The EveryLibrary Institute, a public policy think tank for libraries, and Book Riot, the largest independent editorial book site in North America, announce the results of a comprehensive survey of parents about their perceptions of school librarians. The “Parents’ Perceptions of School Libraries Survey” gathered insights from 616 parents and guardians of children under 18 during December 2023. The surveys asked parents and guardians about their perception of school librarians' trustworthiness as professionals and curators of a library collection.

Top-level findings show that parents in the United States strongly believe in the importance of school librarians, with 95 percent asserting that every school should have one. However, 60 percent of parents believe access to certain books should be age-restricted or require parental permission. Additionally, a majority believe in proactive parental involvement: 57 percent support the idea of parents being notified when their child checks out a book, and 53 percent think parents should have the option to opt their children out of using the school library altogether.

Despite this protective stance, 80 percent of parents trust school librarians to select appropriate books, and 93 percent feel their child is safe using the library. The survey also touches upon the broader debate around parents' rights and responsibilities regarding book banning and children's access to certain topics. 70 percent of parents acknowledge their responsibility in guiding their child’s reading, and 60 percent support children's right to choose their reading materials.

“The survey results present a mixed message from American parents about school libraries and librarians,” says John Chrastka, executive director of the EveryLibrary Institute. “On one hand, there is a clear and strong affirmation of the value of school libraries and the professionals who run them, with a majority of parents recognizing the importance of these educational resources in their children's lives. On the other hand, the survey also reveals deep-seated concerns and divergent views among parents regarding access to certain books and the extent of parental oversight in school libraries.

“These insights about school libraries and librarians reflect the complex attitudes of American parents towards education and information access in today’s society.”

"The results of this study show some real tension,” said Kelly Jensen from Book Riot. “School librarians are viewed as honest and trustworthy, and while the majority of parents do not know how books get on school library shelves, they indicate a desire to know what books their students are borrowing. That LGBTQ+ books are still seen as the most likely to be seen as inappropriate for anyone under 18 is chilling. It is not encouraging to see that nearly 1/3 of parents would seek to ban a book from the school library if it made them or their child uncomfortable."

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