ALA Moving Forward with Focus on School Libraries June 24, 2013Posted by Susan Ballard in Check this out!.
For almost two years I have had the pleasure of serving as the co-chair (with NJLA Executive Director, Pat Tumulty) of an ALA Presidential Task Force on School Libraries. Initiated by Molly Raphael and continued by Maureen Sullivan, our task was to help raise the awareness among all of ALA’s divisions, round tables, offices, etc. regarding the need to work collaboratively to develop an understanding of and commitment to school libraries by parents, teachers, school administrators and policy makers as an essential ingredient for student success. We were tasked to develop a plan to assist ALA in the roll out of a more focused campaign and I am pleased to note that as we wrap up our work, the next phase is now in motion. Recently ALA President-elect, Barbara Stripling, ALA President Maureen Sullivan, Pat Tumulty and I shared a sense of where we are now and where things are headed in a message to the members of ALA Council and I wanted to share it with all of you as a harbinger of forward momentum.
As we are all aware, school libraries across the country are at a critical point. On the one hand, budget and testing pressures on administrators and school districts have led to decisions to eliminate or de-professionalize school libraries. On the other hand, the increased emphasis on preparing all students to be college and career ready and the widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards and integration of technology have opened an unprecedented door to school library leadership.
ALA is planning a strong and multi-faceted campaign for school libraries. Building on the work of the School Library Task Force that presented its final report at Midwinter 2013 (this report is attached), a School Library Implementation Task Force has begun working on the strategic messaging and advocacy work for the next year (the proposed work plan is also attached). The School Library Implementation Task Force work will start with a short-term “think tank” to develop key messages and strategies. Then the full task force will divide into subcommittees to tailor the messages and actions to the different constituencies identified by the School Library Task Force in its final report.
The school library campaign will be jump started by beginning the national push for signatures on the Declaration for the Right to Libraries with school libraries who will then forward the signed declarations to public and academic libraries in their communities and state. The vision is to establish a window of 1-2 weeks in the fall for school libraries across the country to host signing ceremonies and for ALA to use this opportunity to leverage strong national media coverage and public support.
The school library advocacy efforts will also include building partnerships with national organizations and targeting specific constituencies (like school administrators, classroom teachers, parents, and school boards). Increased advocacy with national legislators will be guided by the Washington Office.
Several vendors have offered to support ALA advocacy efforts for school libraries. ALA will engage those vendors and enlist others to become a part of the school library campaign.
Thank you for your many supportive comments and interest. Recently, we received very encouraging news about the inclusion of school libraries in the Senate Education Bill, but this is only the beginning. School libraries must be made a national priority, and we will need your help – and the help of every member and every supporter – if we are to succeed.
The bottom line for our school library campaign is our shared understanding that all types of libraries form an ecosystem that really does impact the success of whole communities and the individuals within them. We must stand together and demand strong school libraries. No child in America should be deprived of that right.
ALA President Elect
Susan Ballard and Pat Tumulty
Co-Chairs, School Library Task Force
The implementation Task Force referenced in this message has been formed and will be co-chaired by Gina Milsap, Chief Executive Officer – Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, and our own incoming President-elect, Terri Kirk. Â The best is yet to come and I am excited at the prospects that this renewed focus on school libraries will bring!