School Library Media Centers


There are somewhere around 80 thousand schools with library media centers (SLMC) according to the latest published data. These are important libraries but we know little about them from these data. There are under 10,000 public libraries and under 4,000 academic libraries so a universe survey is possible: that is, each can be surveyed. With the SLMC, it is necessary to draw samples from the population and those samples will results in estimates of the characteristics of all SLMCs in the US from those samples and resultant calculations. The publications listed here are those published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) The dates of the formal publications focused on the SLMC here range from 1974 through 2013. The 1974 publication was another found at the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and was published under the Library General Information Survey (LIBGIS) program, a predecessor library collection effort by NCES but the only one I have found so far. That means there are earlier data from NCES not available via their Website. Their job is not to archive library data, that should be up to librarians and perhaps the ICPSR. LIBGIS is the past; what about the present?

Here is a brief description via NCES [accessed on November 19, 2022] on the Library Statistics Program (in part:)

Elementary/secondary public school library media centers data and information from 1993-94 through 2011-12 can be accessed on the Schools and Staffing Survey website. More recent data can be found in this National Teacher and Principal Survey table.

The Schools and Staffing Survey Website is currently here: and the National Teacher and Principal Survey table mentioned is here: This latter link is to a table available in two Excel formatted spreadsheets that can be downloaded, one is the estimates of a number of variables and the second is a spreadsheet of the standard errors of those estimates. Those two tables are included below in the first listed item.

The data on these libraries, then, now appear in larger publications and it looks like a table here or a table there. However, the National Teacher and Principal Survey has a search block and one can search for school libraries, say, and find detailed drill downs on these larger publications. The Excel tables mentioned were found this way. So, this might be a way to find newer data. It is not ideal but it is not bad as far as I can see. It may be a reasonable compromise if the search mechanism is as good as my brief experience suggests.

Surveying all the School Library Media Centers is a difficult problem and typically, NCES has sampled them and issued reports. These are the publications I have found or identified.

School Library Media Center Publications
Type of publication File type Title File name File size Notes
Spreadsheet .xlsx Number of schools with a library media center and number of full–time and part–time school technology specialists and librarians/library media specialists, by selected school characteristics: 2015–16 ntps1516_20180119002_s1n.xlsx
17KB (total) August 2013
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Data File," 2015–16.
First Look PDF Characteristics of Public and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Library Media Centers in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey 2009322.pdf 1.2MB June 2009
NCES 2009-322
First Look PDF Characteristics of Public and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Library Media Centers in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey 2009322.pdf 1.2MB June 2009
NCES 2009-322
Fast Response Survey PDF Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2005 2007020.pdf 659 KB November 2006
NCES 2007-020
EDTab PDF Characteristics of Schools, Districts, Teachers, Principals, and School Libraries in the United States: 2003-04 Schools and Staffing Survey (NCES 2006-313 Revised) 2006313.pdf 1.2MB March 2006, revised June 2007
NCES 2006-313
School and Staffing Survey
PDF America’s Public School Libraries: 1953-2000 2005324.pdf 768 KB March 2005
NCES 2005-324
School and Staffing Survey
PDF Fifty Years of Supporting Children’s Learning: A History of Public School Libraries and Federal Legislation From 1953 to 2000) 2005311.pdf 820 KB March 2005
NCES 2005-311
School and Staffing Survey
ED Tab PDF School Library Media Centers: Selected Results From the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002)
The Education Longitudinal Study 2002 has a separate Website. This is one publication of many from that study and, I believe, the only one related to SLMCs.
2005302.pdf 882 KB December 2004
NCES 2005302
ED Tab PDF The Status of Public and Private School Library Media Centers in the United States: 1999-2000 2004313.pdf 611 KB March 2004
NCES 2004313
Documentation PDF Documentation to the NCES Common Core of Data Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey, 1999-2000 psu99gen.pdf 333 KB
Technical Report PDF Evaluation of Definitions and Analysis of Comparative Data for the School Library Statistics Program 98267.pdf 535 KB September 1998
NCES 98-267
Technical Report PDF School Library Media Centers, 1993-94 98282.pdf 1,068 KB August 1998
NCES 98-282
Statistical Analysis Report
Schools and Staffing Survey
School Library Media Centers in the United States, 1990-91 Available from GPO?
Ordering information.
November 1994
NCES 94326
Data file? Survey of Public and Private School Libraries and Media Centers, 1985 Not available Identified at ICPSR
ICPSR 2227, 2002
Data file PDF
Library General Information Survey (LIBGIS) I: Public School Libraries/Media Centers, Fall 1974 (documentation)
Data file
SAS program
SPSS program
1,221 KB
1,847 KB
29 KB
31 KB
ICPSR 2225

November 30, 2022
Back to the Main page