Below you will find a press release from ALA President Roberta Stevens which urges you to take action. I wonder what will it take for you personally (yes, you reader, I’m talking to you) to be motivated to respond and take action for school libraries.
If school librarians will not take the initiative and respond to calls for actions, we do not have the right to whine that everyone else is not doing the work for us. Yes, we want school librarians to reach out to our teachers, our school boards, our unions, our colleagues in NEA, our parents, and the community to speak for us.
And, yes, this is an EVERY library issue because without school libraries, an essential part of the library world infrastructure will deteriorate. During a recent ALA executive board call, I reminded them that this is far more than a school library issue and no librarian should assume that the school librarians will be able to do front-line advocacy themselves. Many librarians forget what it is like to the the SOLE librarian in your building and program. All librarians must work for the good of the whole infrastructure.
But what it comes down to is numbers of participants! School librarians, you must participate. No excuses. Just do it. Here’s Roberta Steven’s message:
Dear ALA Members,
I am writing to you today to enlist your participation in an association-wide advocacy campaign to protect funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), H.R. 1, funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. The House version zeroed out the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program. Action now moves to the Senate, which is drafting its own version of the CR.
This is the time to reach out to your U.S. senators by phone or email – and, importantly, to urge others in your communities to do so as well.
The request to your senators is straightforward. In the Continuing Resolution for 2011:
1. Maintain the 2010 funding level of $213.5 million for the Library Services and Technology Act.
2. Maintain the 2010 funding level of $19.1 million for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.
Beyond these basic requests, I urge you to share with your senators how you are using this federal funding and how the constituents of your state benefit educationally and economically from library services during these challenging times. Provide examples of how you assist the public with online job searching, preparing resumes, small business development, accessing online information and training, etc.
Inform your senators about the role school libraries play in ensuring students graduate with the skills they need to be successful in today’s workforce. The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program increases the literacy skills and academic achievement of students by providing them with access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school library media centers; and well-trained, professionally certified school librarians.
This is only the latest part of our ongoing need for grassroots advocacy on federal appropriations and other library issues. The federal government’s 2012 budget will be the next focus of Congress. Your messages to the senators requesting 2011 support for the Library Services and Technology Act and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program will also influence their deliberations for the 2012 funding levels.
Your advocacy is vital to ensuring that our libraries remain a fundamental force in America’s economic and educational future. As an association – and as a profession – we must work together to have a strong voice.
The ALA Legislative Action Center (http://capwiz.com/ala) can assist you with contacting your senators. If you need further help, call Jeff Kratz or Kristin Murphy with the ALA Office for Government Relations at 1-800-941-8478.