My career as a librarian began in 1982 at Swarthmore College where I worked as the Social Sciences Bibliographer and taught courses in language and culture. After seven years, I became director of the Annenberg School for Communication library at the University of Pennsylvania. Ten years later I moved west to become the Director of Library Services at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. I have recently retired, but remain connected with independent school librarians in the United States.
This essay presents a statistical picture of a sample of independent school libraries based on a survey in 2004-2005 conducted by the Independent School Section of AASL. The profile compares libraries on the basis of schools' student and faculty sizes, collection sizes, budgets, staffing, hours open, facilities, and access to technology. Data from three main categories of school groups (Independent, Independent Religious, and Religious) and school types (Day, Boarding, and Combined Day and Boarding) are analyzed and then compared with data from the recent AASL longitudinal survey of public and private schools. The ISS sample of libraries which consists largely of NAIS members appears to provide greater resources, more open hours and more access to databases than public schools. In addition, studies from NCES and NAIS comparing public and private school students indicate that independent school students have higher scores both on school tests and SAT tests. The author discusses the possible role that usage of the independent school library contributes to these outcomes.