Results of the NYLA/SLSA New York State Census of School Librarian

The New York Library Association Announces School Librarian Census Data for the 2018-2019 School Year

Current Law & Regulatory Framework
New York State Law fails to guarantee any student will have access to the specialized services provided by certified school library media specialists (cSLMS). Instead, NYSED Commissioner’s Regulation §91.2 requires only limited access to cSMLS services for those students in secondary schools, and wholly ignores elementary school students – children at their most critical stages of educational development. Even if NYSED were to amend §91.2 to include elementary schools, its continued failure to enforce the existing language exposes the inadequacy of the entire regulatory framework. In order to best protect the educational opportunities of all students, access to cSLMS must be guaranteed by state law.

NYLA’s Proposed Legislation
In 2018, NYLA worked with Senator Kaplan and Assemblymember Solages to introduce legislation that requires all schools to provide students access to quality school libraries staffed by cSLMS. This legislation (A.2444 Solages / S.2421 Kaplan), was developed in close consultation with SSL to best address the needs of each student, in every school building across New York State. This legislation looks very similar to current (Grades 7 – 12) regulations with regard to the requirement based on student population.  However, it is looking to change from a “per period” formula to a FTE formula, as the “periods” are not consistent in schools across the state.The legislation’s proposed minimum staffing levels, largely reflective of existing requirements found in §91.2, are summarized here:

Student Population cSLMS Staffing Levels §91.2
(secondary schools only)
cSLMS Staffing Levels S.3931/A.6784-A
(elementary & secondary)
Library Clerk Staffing Levels S. 3931/A.6784-A
(new; elementary & secondary)
1-100 1 school period .15 FTE N/A
101-300 2 school periods .3 FTE N/A
301-500 .5 school day .5 FTE N/A
501-1,000 5 school periods 1 FTE 1 FTE at 1000 students
2,000+ 2 FTE 2 FTE 2 FTE
For Each Additional 1,000 +1 FTE +1 FTE +1 FTE

Gauging the Legislation’s Impact
Earlier this year, NYLA worked in conjunction with the School Library System Association (SLSA) to conduct an independent census of current cSLMS staffing levels in every elementary and secondary school across the state.
Benchmarking the data against the proposed legislation reveals several predictable results. As noted in the above table, the proposed requirements essentially restate §91.2 so the prospective compliance rates substantially reflect existing §91.2 compliance rates.

Under the proposed legislation,

  1. The statewide compliance rates for secondary schools is approximately 52.7%, a decrease from when this census was last conducted in 2016;
  2. Significant noncompliance among the “Big Five” school districts (NYC, Yonkers, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester);
  3. Substantial noncompliance among schools serving  “Urban.Suburban/High Needs” students; and
  4. Compliance rates improve in direct proportion to the relative wealth of a school’s surrounding community.
  5. cSLMS FTE would increase to 3,0558.6, NYS currently has 2,31.8 cSLMS FTE
  6. The 700,205 students currently underserved, would be given access to a cSLMS


Secondary Schools

Needs Level Total Comply Rate
High Needs 148 122 82%
    Urban/Suburban 43 34 79%
    Rural 108 88 81%
Large City 353 67 19%
    New York City 314 42 13%
    Big 5/Non NYC 39 25 64%
Average Needs 318 273 86%
Low Needs 126 113 90%


Elementary Schools

Needs Level Total Comply Rate
High Needs 349 196 56%
    Urban/Suburban 192 97 62%
    Rural 157 99 63%
Large City 905 187 21%
   New York City 785 109 14%
   Big 5/Non NYC 120 78 65%
Average Needs 745 560 75%
Low Needs 341 260 76%