Baltimore Library Project

Weinberg-LibraryBy: Steve Sheldon and Marcy Davis

Research on school libraries has found that libraries are often underused yet valuable resources that can have a positive impact on student achievement. In particular, prior research studies have shown that access to books during the school day leads to higher test scores and academic achievement, even offsetting the negative impacts of poverty (Guthrie, Wigfield, & Von Secker, 2000; Lindsay, 2010). An ongoing  formative evaluation  will continue throughout the project resulting in a  series of reports examining the implementation and, later, the impact of the library on reading and literacy in the schools. In this first year report the focus is on perceptions of the libraries by principals, librarians, teachers, students, and community partners. These perceptions inform our understanding of the potential impact or lack thereof on later behavior changes.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation (Weinberg Foundation) initiated the Baltimore Library Project as a multi-year, collaborative effort to design, build, equip, and staff new or renovated elementary/middle school libraries in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) in high-poverty neighborhoods where many students face academic challenges. The Weinberg Foundation has committed $10 million to the initiative and plans to renovate up to 24 libraries. Each library includes flexible book shelving, e-readers, computers and other technological instructional devices, an “Enoch Pratt Parent Place” for parents/guardians, informal reading areas, and separate areas for study and research, instruction, and group discussion. They have transformed five school libraries throughout Baltimore City to date and plan to open four more by September 2014. Current Library Project schools include:

Year 1 Cohort (Opened 2012-13 school year)

  1. Moravia Park Elementary School
  2. Southwest Baltimore Charter School
  3. Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School

Year 2 Cohort (Opened 2013-14 school year)

  1. Arlington Elementary/Middle School
  2. The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School
  3. Henderson-Hopkins School

Year 3 Cohort (Scheduled to open 2014-15 school year)

  1. Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School
  2. Harford Heights Elementary School
  3. Windsor Hills Elementary/Middle School