The Access Gap: Poverty and Characteristics of School Library Media Centers

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Stephen Krashen believes that schools can counter the effects of poverty in at least one area: access to books. However, little research has been done to determine whether students living in poverty have access to school library services comparable to those attending schools with low concentrations of students living in poverty. We examined the school library access gap; namely, the differences in school library characteristics (staffing, books added to collection, schedule, and number of days closed) in schools with various concentrations of students living in poverty. Alarmingly, we found that the students in most need—those attending schools with the highest concentrations of students living in poverty—had the fewest school library resources to draw on. Findings suggest that if we hope to close achievement gaps between high and low socioeconomic groups, we must attend to the access gap in school libraries in high- and low-poverty schools.