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Released July 23, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - A University of Southern Mississippi librarian's national presentation on the critical role school libraries play in academic achievement is now available on the Internet via webcast.

Mary Beth Applin, information services librarian at Southern Miss' Cook Library, along with a group of other librarians from across the country, presented "Information Literacy for Educators: Models for Integrating Information Literacy Instructions into Pre-Service Education for K-12 Teachers and Administrators, "at the April meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Applin's research and presentation emphasized the critical role libraries in secondary and elementary school systems play in the academic development of students. Applin said that with school budgets across the country suffering cutbacks, often a school's library is the target of cuts to make up for funding losses, a move that she and other researchers believe is adversely affecting student performance.

As a result, many school libraries now lack support staff to help students use a library's resources, and teachers too often lack the training to fill the void.

"What made our presentation unique is each of us working with teachers and school administrators on how important information literacy is (with regard to school libraries)," Applin said. "We're one of the few (groups) addressing the issue."

The presentation includes descriptions of model academic programs that have been developed to effectively integrate information literacy critical for effective use of library resources into preservice teacher and administrator education.

Applin and two Southern Miss professors - Dr. Thelma Roberson and Dr. William Schweinle - conducted a statewide survey that found correlations between student achievement and whether their school libraries had a full-time librarian available to provide assistance to students to access the library's resources, and to teach information literacy to the school's faculty.

Another element of the survey measured perceptions to determine a correlation between teachers and librarians' ability to work together, and what type of experience teachers had previously with libraries that could affect their attitudes and perceptions.

"The whole push now (in education) is accountability and making sure that students are achieving, and there are surveys out there now that demonstrate the effect (of libraries) on student achievement," Applin said.

Southern Miss University Librarian Kay Wall praised Applin's presentation and the team's research efforts. "Mary Beth has distinguished herself as a leader in area of academic libraries and information literacy," Wall said. "Her expertise and methods for engaging students in the information classroom has added to the success of our instruction program at Southern Miss."

Applin's presentation can be accessed at



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August 15, 2003 11:02 AM