Audiobooks and attitudes: An examination of school librarian's perspectives
Given that research has shown that audiobooks impact literacy for youth in a number of ways, and since school librarians typically serve as gatekeepers of audiobook collections in school libraries, this study examined the attitudes of school librarians in Texas toward audiobooks. Using a multiliteracies framework to guide this research, this study asked: How do school librarians in Texas perceive the value and use of audiobooks for children and young adults? An electronic online survey was conducted using the population of school librarians in the state of Texas at both the elementary and secondary levels with 298 librarians providing usable data for analysis. In addition to the guiding study question, the thirty-nine question survey attempted to ascertain attitudes toward differences between listening to and reading a book, toward the addition of audiobooks to a school library collection, toward the use of audiobooks with diverse student populations, in addition to collecting general demographic information about librarian experience and correlating findings against this demographic data. When applicable, the survey included open-ended survey questions that offered participants an opportunity to offer additional comments and feedback. To highlight, this study's results found that across all grade levels (e.g., elementary, middle school, high school, young adult, adults), the overwhelming majority (94.6%) of librarians noted that ALL students should have access to audiobooks, with 82% reporting having an audiobook collection in their school library. The "typical" school librarian respondent in this study was female, with a Master of Library Science degree, working in a public school, serving 500-1000 students in the suburbs, with a budget of at least $300 per year to spend on audiobooks. Educational constituency and annual budgets were both proven to be statistically important in the acquisition of audiobooks. Respondents essentially had the same regard for the value of audiobooks in relation to reading regardless of the size of their audio collections. Most noteworthy obstacles for acquiring audiobooks were funding (52%), lack of interest from faculty (24.8%) and format restrictions (21%). In conclusion, it is important to note that while attitudes held by school librarians in Texas regarding audiobooks were overwhelmingly positive, a number of obstacles contribute to the lack of robust audiobook collections in many school libraries.