Category Archives: Advocacy

Make Sure Georgia School Libraries Count!

AASL’s longitudinal study of school library programs is well underway but as of last weekend only 20 libraries in Georgia had submitted their data. So let’s make sure Georgia school libraries are well represented by taking the time to complete the survey.

And please share ways you’ve used the data from previous years to advocate for your program!


Salem Press Launches The Library Grants Center

Salem Press via kwout

Today, Salem Press launched The Library Grants Center, a free, online directory of grants for libraries.   Developed and Edited by Mirela Roncevic for Salem Press, the grants tool empowers librarians to locate library grant funding sources on the national, state, regional and local levels (US sources).  The center is free, requires no login or authentication, and will be updated on a regular basis.  It also contains a how-to area with a tutorial, FAQ, and lists of resources.

According to the Salem press release, the web site focuses on grants available to all types of libraries and from a range of sources—public and private— including professional organizations, large corporations, and family foundations. “Everyone’s aware of the financial pressures on libraries. They are enormous and growing,” said Peter Tobey, Salem Press’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “So we were motivated to try to relieve some of that pressure by developing self-help tools for librarians. The Library Grant Center is that tool.”
The Library Grants Center consists of three distinct sections:

  • National Library Grants features a sophisticated search tool that lets grant seekers perform simple keyword searches or narrow their search options. A range of browsing options is also provided, including browsing by grant category, purpose, and deadline.
  • State Library Grants is a state-by-state guide that points librarians to grant information specific to their state and to the foundations in their area that support libraries.
  • Library Grants How-To provides in-depth information on the grant applications process, complete with extensive lists of resources for further research and pointing to grant writing tools available online at no cost.

“We hope librarians will help us add to the Center so that, as a community, we can keep it up-to-date and growing,” added Tobey. “We are committed to keeping it current and useful.”

According to Roncevic, “the proliferation of social media outlets has inundated the library and publishing industry with relentless dialog. While dialog is important, we shouldn’t forget the tools. The more free tools we build and share, the more we grow our community’s footprint. The bigger that footprint, the greater the benefit for all involved. The Library Grants Center is a free tool that addresses the needs of librarians looking for funding but also a practical reminder to publishers and vendors that their support still matters a great deal.”

If you missed AASL 2011…there’s still time to learn and take action!

I just had the great fortune of traveling to Minneapolis to the attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference.  I’ve made it a professional goal for myself to attend this conference that occurs every two years because it’s an opportunity to network with librarians from around the world.  The aspect of the conference that I love the most is that there are so many ways to get involved with the conference as a whole whether you are attending in person or learning from afar.

Georgia Librarians @AASL Minneapolis/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

As the conference comes to a close, it’s not too late for you to connect with the conversations that were started in Minneapolis.  In fact, I think it’s necessary that you find at least one avenue to not only connect with the conversations from Minneapolis, but also use them to take action within your own practice, your school culture, and the education community as a whole.  It’s not an excuse to say, “My school doesn’t have funding to travel to Minneapolis”.  From the comfort of your own home, you can learn, reflect, and contribute well after the close of the conference.

The main message that I took away from AASL is that we are in a time of opportunity and transition.  Now more than ever, we must all take on a leadership role not only within our schools, but also within the education community and beyond.  We must be innovative, creative, and daring listeners, teachers, and collaborators.  We must harness the resources that are available in the world and work with our students and teachers to use these evolving resources to both consume information and create new content.  We must be transparent about the work that we do and digitally document our practice to not only support one another as librarians, but also to send a message to the world about the importance of our role as teachers in our profession.

What might you do to connect to the conversations at AASL:

1.  Download the new ebook School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, and What’s Yet to Come? which was crowdsourced by more than 50 authors.  I started reading the book on my flight to Minneapolis, and every essay spoke to issues that I am currently wrestling with in my own practice and in my district.  I love how each essay is short and concise and that I don’t learn who the author is until after I finish reading the text.  This book can be a springboard for current and future conversations about libraries.  However, it should be more than a springboard for conversation; it should be an invitation to take action and move forward with the transforming nature of our work.  Here are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me.

School Libraries: What's now? What's next? What's yet to Come?

“New technologies do not create or fill some new need; they allow us all to express needs that have existed for generations.” ~Sara Kelley-Mudie

“The only constant is change.  More than anything else, perhaps, that change is exemplified in the future librarian herself: a highly skilled teacher who is an instructional chameleon.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape.  Today’s students cannot afford to wait for the ‘future librarian’.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“I am a storyteller, information curator, database expert, extended essay supervisor, book group coordinator, wiki specialist, transliteracy coach, interdisciplinary-information literacy collaborator, approaches-to-learning leader, guided inquiry mentor, curriculum team member, open-access advocate, one-to-one and mobile device promoter, reading champion, and accreditation team member.” ~Beth Guorley

“We cannot simply support the curriculum anymore.  We cannot wait for people to see our worth.  Yes, part of our job is to support the staff and students, but we can also teach them and improve student learning directly.” ~Heather Hersey

“There is a good chance that the school librarian or library media specialist, as one of the school’s technology leaders, has the most organic understanding of how content and technology are most effectively co-mingled to the benefit of the student and to best help the teacher.” ~Evan St. Lifer

“What we cannot afford is to let students forget to love to read.  What we cannot afford is a generation of people who forgot how to think, to imagine, to care.” ~Jesse Karp

“Libraries should not shrink as physical collections shrink; they should grow as opportunities for collaboration and cooperative learning grow.” ~Len Bryan

“As we look to the future of school libraries, I see us as a run-on sentence of sorts.  People outside librarianship are often so anxious to box us in, to define us.  They want to apply their grammar to the library – a place that is, at its heart, artful, authentic, and inquiring.” ~Elizabeth Friese

2.  Join the twitter conversation by search for the hashtag #aasl11 and reading through the extensive documentation and reflection of hundreds of people attending in person and from afar.  Contribute to the conversation by adding your own tweets and responding to tweets.  Be sure to tag your new tweets with #aasl11 as well.

3.  View the wealth of slidecasts, wikis, and videos from the Learning Commons.  Sessions on topics such as the bookstore model, play in the library, inviting participation in the library, the image of the school librarian, iPad apps, advocacy, reimagining libraries, and more can be found on the pages of this wiki.

Andy Plemmons presenting on participation in the library/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

4.  Register for the virtual conference.  For as low as $99 for AASL members, you can get access to the recordings of the opening and closing sessions as well as 8 concurrent sessions.  You’ll also have access to the handouts and slidecasts uploaded by presenters of other sessions.  Some of the archived sessions include Buffy Hamilton’s Libraries as Sponsors of Transliteracy, Doug Johson’s Cloud Computing, a panel on what kinds of books we need in K-12 libraries, and Dr. Violet Harada’s Assessment in the library.

5.  Join the conference Ning.  Get connected with people who attended the conference, continue conversations from before/during/after the conference, and view feeds of tweets and photos from the conference.

In one of the sessions I attended, a leader within ALA stated that she would like to see all librarians being transformative, transparent leaders within the next 3 years.  How will you get connected and take action?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Critical Vote on School Libraries This Week

reposted from The ALA Washington Office District Dispatch blog

I am writing this message as we look at what, I believe, is the best opportunity for school libraries to be recognized in Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s most important federal K-12 education law.  What happens in the next few days in a Senate committee will determine federal K-12 education programs for the next decade.  If school libraries are not in the legislation, if we don’t succeed this week, we face a daunting hurdle to get federal school library programs acknowledged for many years.   More and more students will not be served; a whole generation of low-income kids will go through school with inadequate or even no school library resources.  Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating.

Please bear with me as I explain the political realities of what we are dealing with on this issue and how what happens this week in a Senate committee affect what will happen in the coming years.   And, I want to emphasize to all library supporters – we need  you to be nimble, tough and strategic as we ask you to take action in several ways as the possibilities for  getting a school library program at the federal level unfolds in the coming days.   We have some opportunities to succeed for school libraries and K-12 students in this next phase but we are facing some very real risks of losing.   And, I don’t like to lose; not when it’s this important.

I want to answer some of your questions about federal school library proposals and if or how we can succeed in Congress for the long haul.  Unfortunately, making legislation is really like making sausage so bear with me as I explain some of the crazy contradictions in the process.

What is happening in the U.S. Senate on school library proposals right now and what is ALA doing?
Starting today, (Wednesday, October 19) the U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) begins a process to mark-up a bill to reauthorize ESEA.   It is our understanding that by the end of this week, the HELP committee will complete its work on the bill, including many amendments.  Then the bill goes to the Senate floor for a final Senate vote.  We have no way of knowing when the bill will go to the Senate floor.

The public got access to the draft bill on October 11, 2011.  This bill was changed on Monday, October 17 in what was called “the Manager’s Amendment” and the committee had a deadline of yesterday at 10:30 a.m. for other committee member’s amendments.   Not an unusual situation while making sausage, I mean legislation.  It is expected that there will be around 150 amendments to be considered.

Leading up to this point, and since the beginning of the 112th Congress in January of this year, ALA, working closely with the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), developed and successfully had the SKILLS Act introduced by Sen. Jack Reed and Thad Cochran asking for a federal initiative dedicated to supporting and enhancing school libraries as part of federal education legislation.  This bill has only 5 cosponsors, which, unfortunately, is not enough to have this proposal “slide” through the Senate.   The language of the SKILLS Act is the culmination of several other proposals we made in previous Congresses.

What will the Senate HELP Committee do this week?
This effort has been the height of “hurry up and wait.”  For 2 years, ALA and its members have been talking to their legislators about including school libraries in federal legislation.  Senators Reed and Cochran introduced the SKILLS Act in June 2011.  There are various procedural steps expected as the final version of the ESEA bill actually goes to the committee for a mark-up; things will be happening quickly this week.  The SKILLS Act has morphed into an amendment by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Patty Murray to the larger ESEA bill as the Senate HELP Committee begins its work.  This is not an unusual occurrence as bills evolve and consolidate or morph through the legislative process.   At this point, our advocacy alerts have started referring to a school library “amendment” rather than the SKILLS Act.     We think the overall ESEA bill will pass, although we do not know if the school library provision will be supported.   But another step in sausage making…

Who are our champions?
Senator Jack Reed continues to work very hard for school libraries.  He wrote the SKILLS Act, recruited a Republican co-sponsor, Thad Cochran, and twisted arms to get the original co-sponsors (Senators Kerry, Murray, Rockefeller and Whitehouse).  He got appropriations language for school libraries in this year’s Senate Appropriations bill and has worked with Senator Whitehouse to create this amendment to ESEA.

Senator Murray has agreed to co-sponsor the Senator Whitehouse’s school library amendment.

We need to say thank you.

What happens after the Senate passes ESEA? 
Because of the history and difficulties in getting ESEA reauthorized in previous Congresses, the agreement between the House and the Senate is for the Senate to pass ESEA first.  Then the bill would go to the House.  The House has passed 4 smaller education bills, none of which address school libraries, and the Senate does not support that approach.   On top of this, the current House leadership has indicated that it will not work on ESEA until 2013 – the next Congress, after the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Why are we so worried about the Senate bill and what is happening the House of Representatives?
We need for school library language to stay in ESEA for the next Congress.   With the assumption that the 113th Congress will start with the Senate bill from this 112th Congress, it is extremely important that the school library provision gets into ESEA now.

If the House should vote on ESEA in this Congress, we must be in the Senate bill because there is no unique House bill.     If school libraries are not included in this pending Senate bill, it is extremely unlikely that we would be able to persuade the same congressional players in the next Congress to add in a school library program.   Is this type of dynamic written down anywhere?   No, but because of many years of lobbying and political observing, we know what kind of challenge it would be.

What is the long term expectation?
First, we must succeed in the short term:   get a school library program into the Senate’s ESEA now.   By doing so, we position school libraries to be included when an ESEA bill is finally reauthorized, even if that is in the next Congress.

Why is ESEA taking so long to reauthorize?
Getting ESEA reauthorized, including changing the name from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has taken years already.    ESEA itself is controversial and the current political environment leading into the 2012 presidential election year complicates all legislation – this bill as a whole as well as our proposal for school libraries.

But, still, why can’t we get everything we want?
Well, like sausage, legislation is a mixture, often roughly ground up and stirred together.  By nature, the legislative process is a series of compromises.  In previous ALA initiatives to get federal school library legislation there were some provisions that are not now in the SKILLS Act.  Unfortunately, we have not had great support from the education unions and from other K-12 organizations.  We are competing with everything from literacy coaches to classroom teachers – even though we know that school librarians are both of these.  In the present political environment and the challenging budget climate, we have to cling to survival for our school libraries and, more importantly, the students they serve.  We have to survive in ESEA now to live another day to get funding or even more advanced programs in the future.

What can I do?
Please look at this blog twice a day.  Put in a call to your U.S. Senators from your states at 202-224-3121.  Those of you who have a senator on the Senate HELP Committee must be particularly active and alert.  Please respond to every action alert – even if you called or wrote your senators before about school libraries.  Get other colleagues and neighbors to also call in.  It only takes a few moments to call the senate switchboard, ask for your Senators’ offices, and leave the message:  SUPPORT SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN ESEA!  OUR COUNTRY’S STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER IN SCHOOLS WITH SOLID SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAMS.

Lynne Bradley
Director, Office of Government Relations
ALA Washington Office

Briefing: Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century School Libraries and Their Impact on Career and College Preparedness

Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis
of Twenty-First Century School Libraries
and Their Impact on Career and College Preparedness

October 17th, 2011

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL),
a division of the American Library Association
In conjunction with Representative Rush Holt and Senator Jack Reed

Cordially invite you to a briefing:

Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century School Libraries and Their Impact on Career and College PreparednessMonday, October 17th, 2011
10:00-11:00 am
121 Cannon House Office Building


  • Carl Harvey, School Librarian, North Elementary School, Indiana
  • Donna L. Haye, Assistant Superintendent, Atlantic City Public Schools, New Jersey
  • William A. Mayer, University Librarian, American University, Washington D.C.
  • Kathy Mortimer, Parent, Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia
  • Connie Williams, National Board Certified Teacher Librarian, Petaluma High School, California

School libraries are no longer just for books. Instead they have become sophisticated 21st century learning environments, offering a full range of resources that provide equal learning opportunities to all students. S. 1328, the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act, supports and sustains 21st century school libraries by ensuring that every school is served by a state-certified school librarian and has access to the resources our students need to succeed and prepare for the future. As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is crucial that the SKILLs Act is included in the plan for education reform. This briefing will feature a panel of experts who will discuss the important services that are provided under the SKILLs Act to promote literacy and career and college preparedness for our nation’s students.

Please RSVP to Kaytee Lozier at or             202-349-1030       by October 12th.

Visit the AASL website: