Over the initial 3-year pilot period of the Project, with the cooperation of the principals, teachers and students in the 11 Project schools, the support of the JCSP Support Team, the Project Advisory Committee and the Project Management Team, and the commitment of the librarians, a major evaluation of the Project was carried out. The impact of the libraries on the learning experiences of JCSP students, the learning experiences of other students, the teaching experiences of staff, the expectations of principals and the reactions of the wider community, were examined and analysed in considerable detail. The resultant research report ‘Room for Reading’ was published in 2005.
The main findings of the report include:
- Significantly improved reading scores among JCSP students;
- Continually increased book borrowing by students throughout the years of the Project;
- Evidence of better attendance;
- Improved retention to Senior Cycle;
- Improved levels of concentration;
- Increased interest and motivation among students
- The school library became the hub of student-centered, positive, innovative and successful learning in the Project schools;
- Library-based literacy strategies were having a direct impact on student learning
…the findings demonstrate over and over again, that well stocked, well managed school libraries, with access to books through structured library programmes that are directed towards the learning needs and interests of even the most reluctant and hesitant readers, can have impacts that are very significant (Room for Reading, 2005, p.131)
Follow-up research was carried out during the 2006-2007 academic year. This comprised of a study of JCSP ‘Graduate’ students i.e. JCSP students who participated in the original research study and who were still enrolled in their schools as Senior Cycle students. The longitudinal impact of having access to a professionally staffed school library on the educational aspirations, experiences and outcomes of such students was examined.
The main findings of this follow-up report include:
- Continued regular use of school library;
- Very high levels of public library use;
- Positive association with their 2nd level education;
- Positive impact of school library on students long-term educational aspirations;
- Positive impact of school library on students holistic as well as curricular-based development;
- Project research is ongoing with the extent and purpose of library use by teaching staff currently being evaluated.
Room for Reading 2005
The Project which began as a vision of JCSP students having access to state-of-the-art libraries in which to engage in learning in a new way, has become a reality that has far exceeded our expectations.
More Than a Room for Reading 2008
A follow up study of the JCSP Demonstration Library Project.
Interim Research Report 2003
At this point, half way through the evaluation of this exciting Project, which has without doubt brought so much stimulation, colour, excitement and wonder to students (and their teachers and their parents), there is every reason to expect that this Project will be very successful.