New School Year: Support Your School Librarians
Whether your 2019-2020 school year started in August or it's just getting underway now that Labor Day is behind us, we need your help to focus on the future of school library funding.
Across the country, threats to school library programs are well known and ongoing. The solution is a combination of direct action with local school leaders and a new approach to fixing state-level funding for education to include school librarians and school library programs. EveryLibrary, through our SaveSchoolLibrarians.org initiative and state library association partnerships, is hard at work on both parts of the solution. And we continue to need your help as a donor and activist to build momentum this year.
Since launching our SaveSchoolLibrarians.org initiative in June 2017, over 36,000 Americans have taken an action for school librarians and school libraries. During the 2018 - 2019 school year EveryLibrary supported dozens of individual school librarians who faced crises. We worked to lobby leadership in school districts when cuts to library budgets were threatened. And while it is important to fight cuts and answer a crisis, real change only happens when there is enough funding for education - and school librarians are included in that funding formula. We are proud to have stood alongside our colleagues in eight state school library associations to address these core policy and funding issues for the profession.
2018-19 State School Library Association Partnerships
As the only national political action committee for libraries, EveryLibrary is in a unique position to help school library stakeholders on education and funding policy issues. We have put our SaveSchoolLibrarians.org initiative to work with eight state library association partners over the 2018-19 school year to address the basic shortfalls to funding school library programs and the career of being a school librarian.
Colorado Association of Libraries / CASL
Through SaveSchoolLibrarians.org we provided coordinated digital support for CAL / CASL’s endorsement of Amendment 73 on the 2018 Midterm Election. Amendment 73 would have created new revenue for schools. The Amendment ultimately failed.
Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME)
The Best and Brightest Scholarship program incentives and rewards exemplary work by Florida educators. FAME lobbied extensively in the spring legislative session to have school librarians included as scholarship positions for the first time. Our support included several statewide emailed calls-to-action to the general public and advertising on social media. School librarians are now in the eligible category.
Georgia Library Media Association (GLMA)
The issue of pay levels for Georgia educators was being heard in the Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. We partnered with GLMA to create a statewide call-to-action campaign to help ensure that school librarians were treated fairly in the negotiation. The raises were incorporated into the state’s education funding plan.
Iowa Library Association / IASL
EveryLibrary worked closely with the ILA / IASL committees and leadership team to quickly and effectively push a statewide call-to-action through SaveSchoolLibrarians.org against Iowa Senate Bill 1190 which would have declassified school librarians as ‘required’ and made them optional. The bill was defeated in committee.
Michigan Association of Media Educators (MAME)
MAME succeeded in introducing three bills in the state legislature to mandate and fund school libraries. Our coordinated support through SaveSchoolLibrarians.org has helped add co-sponsors to the bills and set the stage for movement through the Education Committee in Lansing. This is an ongoing campaign. If you live in Michigan, please sign on to support your school librarians.
Nevada Library Association & Clark County School Librarians Association
We have continued to build the list of qualified school library supporters during the current legislative recess with targeted ads for our “Nevada Students Deserve School Librarians” petition. We anticipate a new mandate bill about school librarians introduced during the 2020 legislative session.
Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA)
House Bill 1355 and the complementary Senate Bill 752 would create a mandate for school librarians in Pennsylvania schools over a certain enrollment size. Through the dedicated work by the PSLA leadership team, there are over 50 co-sponsors to the bills. Our ongoing petition with PSLA is generating citizens' support across the state and in certain key legislative districts.
Utah Library Association / UELMA
Utah voters considered Question #1 on the Midterms last November. This fuel tax would have generated new revenue for schools and for infrastructure. School library programs were specifically named as a fundable component of the new revenue. EveryLibrary worked with ULA and UELMA leadership to join the statewide coalition and hosted a targeted get out the vote campaign statewide to library supporters on SaveSchoolLibrarians.org. Unfortunately, the measure failed.
Selected Local and State 2018-19 School Library Advocacy Campaigns Highlights
EveryLibrary continues to work at the local and state level on campaigns to avert crises and to confront polticians and boards that threaten school library work. If your school library program - either at a school or a distrct-wide level - is under threat or you have a colleague who needs help, please don't hesitate to contact us. We can provide pro-bono help activating local parents and stakeholder. But only if we know.
We ran a statewide petition drive called “Read or Starve?” after an Arkansas State Senator proposes a bill to cut school lunch funding for children who cannot pass a state reading test. The bill was defeated in committee.
Our “Don't Shelve EPISD Librarians. Help fight cuts to El Paso School Libraries” petition targeted citizens and parents across the district during the spring 2019 budget fights. We succeded in helping to avert the cuts.
Our petition to former Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel and the CPS school board asked to restore school librarian positions cut so drastically during his administration. Our work has now shifted into a waiting mode as Mayor Lightfoot moves past her first 100 days.
Our campaign for Oakland school librarians continued through the 2018-19 school year with thousands of advocacy impressions and ongoing list building in support of the legitimate local school library stakeholders.
Fewer than 15 school librarian positions are currently filled in the Philadelphia School District. In early 2019 the school board shifted from a state-controlled board to a locally appointed one. We are continuing to put pro-school librarian calls-to-action into the community as local stakeholders align their messaging and agendas.
While we had helped avert cuts in the 2018-19 school budget, the 2019-20 budget for school library programs was also under threat. Through a targeted call-to-action to our existing list of supporters and a quick campaign to bring out new advocates, the cuts were again averted.
We believe firmly in bringing school librarians to coalitions outside the library world. As the 2019-2020 school year comes into focus, EveryLibrary is excited to join the Future Ready Librarians coalition to focus our supports on systemic changes. We will continue to work closely with state association partners and the ISTE Librarians Network on advocacy, trainings, and coalition building.
SaveSchoolLibrarians.org continues to support school librarians in crisis as the only advocacy platform that engages parents and the public about school library budgets and school librarians. We want to thank Follett Learning for their leadership and donor support for SaveSchoolLibrarians.org and our school library-focused policy work. Their ongoing commitment enables and empowers us to continue this high-impact and measurable advocacy work.