“Big ALA” and the new School Library Resolution

“Big ALA” will be focused on school librarians even more after the 2012 Annual Conference recently held in Anaheim. We need it.

"Big ALA" rallies LOUDLY on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 2010

So many school librarians want to join AASL or other divisions without paying dues that include the parent organization,  “Big ALA.”  I personally joined ALA and AASL as a new school librarian because of their support of schools facing intellectual freedom and censorship problems. I did not want to be alone facing a challenge and knew that ALA would back me up. Luckily, I have not had to use the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s help, but you never know when someone will start a challenge. Thus, I knew from the beginning that all my dues supported what I do in my job.

I can’t do my job right without AASL, YALSA, ALSC and other division memberships, but when school libraries need to “Make Some Noise,” the voices of all of ALA’s 60,000+ members are LOUD. And those voices will support our advocacy even louder because of an ALA Council resolution passed unanimously at the 2012 Annual Conference in Anaheim.

The most important work on behalf of school libraries by the ALA Council in Anaheim was the “Resolution that School Libraries and Librarians are Critical to Educational Success” written by the ALA Presidential Task Force on School Libraries. The 2012 task force, co-chaired by then AASL President-Elect Susan Ballard and New Jersey Library Association Director and Chair of the ALA Committee on Library Advocacy Pat Tumulty, was cross-divisional with representation from several ALA units and included:

Sonia Alcantara-Antoine, Council Public Awareness Committee, (PAC) Chair

Audra Caplan, Public Library Association, (PLA) Immediate Past President

Cynthia Czesak, Chapter Relations Committee (CRC) Chair

*Ann Dutton Ewbank, Committee on Library Advocacy (COLA) Liaison

*Deb Logan, COLA Liaison

Donna McDonald, Association for Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) President

*Sylvia Norton, ALA Executive Board (EB) Liaison

*Cindy Pfeiffer, AASL Liaison

Eva Poole, Committee on Legislation (COL) Chair

*Krista Taracuk, AASL Affiliate Assembly

Scott Walter, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Representative

*Paul Whitsitt, AASL Liaison

*J. Linda Williams, ALA EB Liaison

*=school librarian background

The AASL Board unanimously approved the proposal of the resolution at Council by the AASL Division Councilor (me) in an online vote before the conference. Presented first at ALA to the Joint Youth Council (AASL, ALSC and YALSA) Executive Committees, it received a lot of support and went to their Boards for endorsements. It was passed first at the ALA Membership meeting as a member item and then, after revision over the next two days by the task force with suggestions from COL and others, I proposed the revised resolution at Council II on Monday, June 25. Support from the floor of Council from public and academic librarians noted the effect on their library staffs when school libraries are closed. Councilor John Sandstrom, Acquisitions Librarian at New Mexico State University Library, was one of the other-than-school librarians who spoke in support of the resolution:

“My name is John Sandstrom and I am a member of ALA.  I rise to speak in favor of this school library resolution.  Having worked in both public and academic libraries, I have seen the results of weak or non-existent school libraries.

I have worked in public libraries that are besieged by students trying to do their homework without the resources to do so.  Public libraries have their own budget and staff issues and can’t provide the materials or services needed for these students to be successful in their education.

I am now in an academic library, where again, I see students who are not prepared for college level course work.  Who have never been in a library or used a library’s services.  Who didn’t have libraries when they were growing up.  Who are now at a disadvantage in the global economy and whose futures are not as bright, because they didn’t have school libraries.”

The resolution was passed unanimously and, in the resolved clauses, ALA was directed to work on behalf of school libraries and librarians:

Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA):

  1. directs the ALA Presidential Task Force on School Librarians to lead the Association in its continued mission to address the urgent need for advocacy for school libraries and school librarians; and to address the impact of the de-professionalization and curtailment of school library instructional programs on students and student achievement, continuing to engage librarians of all types from across the association to advocate for school libraries, which are imperative to the survival and success of all libraries;
  2. encourages state associations and affiliates to influence legislation requiring adequate funding and appropriate staffing of school libraries in schools at all levels;
  3. places a high priority on seeing that upcoming ESEA legislation recognizes and specifically supports the necessity for effective school library programs and credentialed school librarians;
  4. works to encourage federal lobbying efforts to include school libraries in legislation and regulations, including areas such as digital literacy and broadband; and,
  5. actively seeks partnerships with national organizations to reach mutual goals of sustaining school libraries.

Other ALA units endorsing the resolution are:  ACRL, ALSC, ALTAFF, Chapter Relations, PLA, YALSA, IRRT, LIRT.

The full text of the resolution is attached to the ALA press release:  ALA Council actions are archived on the ALA Governance web page.

Having “Big ALA,” including the Washington Office, focusing more strongly on the value of school libraries and librarians will make a difference in the volume on the urgency of school library issues. Targeted advocacy on our behalf will “Make Some Noise,” some very LOUD noise!





Sara Kelly Johns About Sara Kelly Johns

Sara Kelly Johns (skjohns@gmail.com) is the school librarian at Lake Placid (NY) Middle/High School, and knows that she has the best job in the school. She is also an instructor for the Mansfield University School of Library and Information Technologies and speaks and writes about school librarian activism. Find her on Twitter as @skjohns or on Facebook.


  1. Excellent post with positive news, from which we school librarians can take great comfort! And thanks for all your work on behalf of school librarians everywhere!