Ensure the Future of School Library Funding
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides federal funding for K-12 education programs. Reauthorization of legislation of this nature will determine federal education policy for the coming decade and it is imperative that dedicated funding for school library programs be included. We need you to contact both Senators from your state and let them know how critical school libraries are in improving our education system. Ask them to support dedicated funding for effective school library programs under ESEA by co-sponsoring S.312.
School Librarians Transform Learning
School librarians are truly an "ecosystem". The education students receive at the school library level will affect their ability to use and benefit from public and academic libraries throughout their lives, give them the best chance to succeed, and help teachers drive student success. The purpose of the ALA Midwinter Meeting is to educate the whole of the librarian profession -- and through them, the public -- about the importance of school librarians in the lives of children.
Visit the School Libraries Make a Difference web resource on www.ilovelibraries.org for specific ways to get involved, including drafting a letter to the editor or writing an op-ed for a local publication, which are easy ways to reach large numbers of community members. Our children’s education and readiness for the workforce is in peril due to school library budgets and school librarians being cut. You have a role in ensuring excellence for every student by demanding a school library with a certified school librarian in every school.
Happy 75th Anniversary of the Library Bill of Rights!
June 19, 2014 commemorated the 75th anniversary of ALA’s adoption of the Library Bill of Rights on June 19, 1939 at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The document – which is the basis for the work of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom – was created in the wake of several incidents of banning The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck in the late 1930s. It also was inspired by the rising tide of totalitarianism around the world.
The first iteration of the Library Bill of Rights was a statement by the head of the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library, Forrest Spaulding. It was adopted as policy by that library on November 21, 1938. Much of the wording remained the same for ALA’s version, although it was more universal.
Since its initial adoption, the Library Bill of Rights has been amended four times. There are also over 20 official interpretations on issues ranging from Meeting Rooms to Labeling and Ratings Systems. Many of these interpretations have Q&As associated with them to assist library boards and administrators adapt the policies to their specific circumstances.
To honor the Library Bill of Rights, take some time to read it and consider its meaning and relevance all these decades later!
Legislation to Require a Certified Elementary School Librarian
During the 2014 Legislative Session the issue of requiring a certified school librarian for elementary grades was once again brought to the forefront. Thanks to the newly appointed chair of the Assembly committee on Libraries and Educational Technology, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, a bill A.9699 was introduced.
A.9699 is the reintroduction of 2007 bill introduced by Senator Hugh Farley. As a bill that was drafted seven years ago, the language is not current nor does it best address today's realities. It is although a good first step on the long journey toward passage.
On the last day of the 2014 Legilsative Session, Senator Farely reintroduced his 2007 bill as well, under bill number S.7922. This action demonstrated his commitment to this issue and his willingess to work with library adovcates in the coming session.
There is much work to be done between now and next session. A.9699 is not the version of an ‘elementary school librarian bill’ that we want to pass. A revised version will need to be developed in partnership with a broad coalition of supporters, SSL, SLSA, NYSUT, NYSSBA, NYSPTA and more.
NYLA is confident that we will be able to find sponsors for this legislation, once we have the ‘right’ bill drafted.
With a bill in place that aligns with the our goals, while at the same time have the important element of being ‘passable’ – the real advocacy work will begin.
In the mean-time, the most important and most effective thing that every school librarian can be doing is consistently and persistently advocating for their program and position at the building and district level.
- Ensure that your principal visits the library at least once a month
- Invite the School Board to hold one of their meetings in the library
- Request to present at a School Board meeting about the value of your program
- Invite your elected representatives to visit your library
Building support for certified school librarians at the local level, is the best ground work that everyone can be laying for an advocacy push for passing a certified elementary school librarian bill in the future.
Ways to Engage with ALA
ALA membership supports you in a multitude of ways as you develop your skills and use them to change the world for the better through libraries. ALA is an incredibly rich and varied organization, but it can also be daunting. A new feature on ALA’s home page “Engage with ALA ” will help you see at a glance some of the places to start, whether you’re interested in building your skills, networking, supporting freedom of information, taking legislative action—or all of these and more.
An exclusive documentary about the struggle for the future of New York's branch libraries, by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks.
Ellen Surprises School Librarian
Kirby Thomas, an Elementary School Librarian from Broken Arrow, OK, was honored on the Ellen Show recently for being named the McAuliffe Teacher of the Year. In the interview, Ellen mentions how Kirby emails her show all the time and this video is a great example of how contacting well known individuals like Ellen can possibly be an additional way to promote school librarians and the work we do every day. Take a moment & watch the video of Ellen and Kirby below: