Recent research conducted by a team of researchers from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Studies indicates that students in schools that have certified librarians perform better on English/Language Arts tests than students in schools without certified librarians. Certified librarians are also more likely to provide students with materials that present more diverse points of view and that better support the curriculum than non-certified librarians, the research indicates (

However, since not all schools are mandated to employ certified librarians, many high-needs districts do not have these skilled professionals on staff to assist students and classroom teachers.

The Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) has developed a new Preparing Librarians for High-Needs Schools Scholarship program to help infuse energetic and skilled school media professionals into these high-needs school districts while providing financial assistance to educate the highest caliber school media students.

Scholarship recipients will receive financial support to cover one-third of their tuition costs. In exchange, those students will be required to complete their fieldwork (100 hours) and practica (300 hours) in high-needs districts, as designated by New York State. These are generally districts in both urban and rural areas whose needs outweigh their resources, as calculated by dividing a district’s poverty percentage by its combined wealth ratio. Teachers with appropriate experience have an option for reduced practica hours.

“Our hope in establishing this new scholarship program is really three-fold,” said Meredith Professor Ruth V. Small, program director of the iSchool’s School Media programs. “We hope to provide these high-needs districts with the talent and skills of school media students during their required fieldwork and practica experiences. The program also highlights the value and impact of certified school media specialists in districts across the entire state, and enables us to recruit the best and brightest school media students to the iSchool.”

This scholarship program builds on the work that Small conducted as the creator and administrator of the Preparing Librarians for Urban Schools (PLUS) program from 2003 to 2007. The PLUS program was a distance-learning program for library service in high-need urban schools, and graduated more than 120 new teacher-librarians in New York State for service in New York City, Binghamton, Rochester, and Syracuse.

“The new scholarship program expands the reach of the PLUS program into high-needs rural districts as well,” Small said.

To be eligible for consideration for the Preparing Librarians for High-Needs Schools scholarships, individuals must be accepted into the M.S. in Library and Information Science School Media Specialization or the Certificate of Advanced Study in School Media programs. They also must submit a 500-word essay describing their vision of a future library in a high-needs school.

Scholarship applications received before April 21, 2010, will be given preference.

For more details, visit

Learn more about the school media program by watching this video: