SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution? is an exploratory project submitted by Antioch University Seattle and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services for $348,905, to be conducted from September 2020 through August 2023.  (See Grant Announcement.) The research will determine patterns in the continuing, national decline in school librarian positions and how school districts decide to staff library, learning resources, and instructional technologies programs for K-12 students. The SLIDE project will:

  1. Determine trends over time in school library employment from the National Center for Education Statistics, factoring in school district characteristics and student demographics;
  2. Interview decision-makers in school districts that have reported the greatest librarian gains and losses over the past five years;
  3. Examine job descriptions for librarians and related positions from interview sites; and
  4. Compile related state contextual data regarding school librarian certification, requirements, and support for school library programs.


  1. How equitable is the distribution of school librarians by enrollment, district setting (urban, suburban, rural), race/ethnicity, poverty, and per pupil spending?
  2. What job titles, skills, and responsibilities are valued and sought by school leaders who decide staffing patterns that provide students and teachers with access to and instruction about learning resources, including library and educational technologies?
  3. What factors affect how school decision-makers choose to staff learning resources?
  4. What advantages do decision-makers perceive in their chosen models for achieving district goals compared to other alternatives they considered?


  1. Analyze school librarian employment trends since 2014-15 in NCES data, assessing geography, enrollment, district setting, race/ethnicity, poverty, and per pupil spending.
  2. Create a website with interactive tools allowing users to select various geographic views of school librarian staffing and associated variables. 
  3. Identify staffing models chosen by decision-makers—including school librarians and related positions—and factors that influence their thinking.
  4. Interpret and share findings to LIS educators, library and education associations, school librarians, and school leaders who make difficult K-12 staffing choices.