Friday, February 19, 2010

Letters for Libraries: Advocacy & Action!

Letters for Libraries: It's Not Just About Books.
Funding for school libraries and funding for other student literacy programs (like the National Writing Project) is being threatened both federally and in states across the country. In the 21st century information environment, our students deserve and need your help in keeping their library/information literacy programs strong.

Join us for a National time of Letter Writing...NOW!

Please, If you're reading this...the time is now....Here is a helpful SAMPLE LETTER from Carolyn Foote ...just copy & paste and do your part to save our profession!

Commit to writing 3 emails or letters to Congress, the Department of Education, or your state legislature regarding library and other literacy funding.
There are links and information below to help you.

Issues:
Background information (Joyce Valenza)

Write your congressman:
Write your Representative
Write your Senator
Write your State legislator

Write the Dept. of Education
**AskArne@ed.gov**

"Improving Literacy for School Libraries will no longer be available. The FY 2011 budget absorbs this grant program, along with a variety of others, into Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education. The FY2011 budget describes the competitive distribution process for the newly lumped together monies:
. . . the plan includes a restructuring of ESEA program authorities to fundamentally change how the Department operates by increasing the role of competition in awarding Federal education funds, focusing more on programs achieving specific desired outcomes, allowing for expanded State and local flexibility to achieve those outcomes, and reducing the number of programs administered by the Department of Education. For example, the reauthorization proposal would consolidate 38 existing authorities into 11 new programs that give communities more choices in carrying out activities that focus on local needs and that are achieving results. The new programs would emphasize competition, or an increased performance focus in formula programs, while ensuring that geographic location will not dictate results. These expanded funding streams will eliminate inefficiencies at the Federal, State and local levels, allowing grantees to focus on improving outcomes for students and allowing the Department to focus on providing strong support and directing funding to proven or promising practices."

What will be lost:

List of libraries the "Improving Literacy" grants have helped
  • Kuspuk School District in Aniak, Alaska serving students in 8 rural areas is using the grants to hire a full time certified librarian
  • Blytheville School District in Blytheville, Arkansas is using the grants to help students in rural steel-mill communities by adding library staff and adding online resources for over 900 students.
  • Langston Hughes Academy Charter in New Orleans, Lousiana is using the grant to hire a full-time librarian and build a centralized computer lab area for students
  • Copenhagen School District in Copenhagen, New York is using the grant to provide internet access for a rural community with limited internet resources and create a "Library without Limits."
  • Galveston ISD in Galveston, TX is using the grant to restore hurricane damaged libraries and upgrade library collections
  • Lakeland R-III School District in Deepwater, Missouri is using the grant to bring technology to their rural students including providing multiple laptops for each library, adding a computer lab and whiteboard technology, and adding both a librarian and library assistants to the staff of each school.

Many of the other grants ask for the ability to provide longer library hours, summer hours, parental use of libraries, family literacy events, professional development on collaboration for librarians, and addition of books or technology for libraries in rural areas or impoverished areas. Many of the libraries lack computers completely, or have outdated, poor quality equipment, and books are outdated. Several of the grants revolve around special literacy and reading programs implemented in districts to raise student achievement scores and literacy."

from Carolyn Foote and the new Letters from Libraries wiki and please read her eloquent blog posting:

The issue isn’t “books”"

Where she shares: "In fact, an article in this week’s Education Week, “”Libraries Seek Relevance Through Virtual Access” which features a number of vibrant library programs proves that true." Slide1-300x225

From a recent letter from the ALA:
Out of Work Librarians Need Your Help NOW!
Take Action!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced yesterday that he will bring the Senate's $80 billion version of the Jobs for Main Street Act or the "jobs bill" to the Senate floor sometime next week.

Libraries are not in this bill, and it is more important than ever that you call your Senators and encourage them to include librarians in the $20.5 billion section that is being used to hire and retain teachers, police, and firefighters.

Also, if you are in a state where librarians are represented by a union, please have your local union contact your national union to contact the Senate.

Please call your Senators today at the U.S. Capital switchboard 202-224-3121
Libraries are as essential as schools and public safety and help the economy by helping people find jobs. Yet library jobs are being cut - and, now, not included in this jobs bill. It is vitally important that librarians be as vocal as these other public employees. The reason they are getting funding in this piece of legislation is because they are calling their congressional offices more often and in higher numbers than we are.

Your grassroots efforts are critically important. The omission of librarians in the jobs bill is in addition to the troubling news this week that President Obama's budget proposal freezes the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and consolidates the school library program with literacy programs in the Department of Education. These cuts will lead to a loss of jobs and a loss of services that our communities cannot afford to be without.

Please call both of your U.S. Senators to ask each of them to request that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), include the hiring and retaining of librarians in their jobs bill.

This bill could come up at any moment and it is critically important that you contact your Senators' offices immediately and tell them to push the above Senate leaders to include librarians in the jobs bill. Don't just call once - keep calling until we succeed. Make sure to tell your senators what your library is doing to help people find jobs.

We cannot let this legislation pass without the inclusion of library employees. We have no chance of getting into this legislation without your calls and emails - and the support of all senators!!


Resources:

NCTE's 'resolution" on supporting school libraries.

ALA: Arne Duncan Talks about the Role of Libraries in Economic Recovery

labels: action, Advocacy, ALA, Carolyn Foote, Joyce Valenza, school libraries

3 comments:

  1. Wow, Gweneth, I can't say it any better than you have!

    Now is the time for

    -Self advocacy for your own library program
    -Advocacy for school, academic, and public libraries that at being threatened with severe budget cuts or closure.

    What is lost will not easily be regained.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, Gwyneth! However, we cannot advocate for our own programs: that is self-serving and not really what advocacy means. See my post at http://aliceinfo.squarespace.com/blog/activate-comes-before-advocate.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. I respectfully disagree Alice. Or rather, I agree with your post but not your comment.

    I believe advocacy begins at home. If you believe that talking about your program is "self-serving" and wait for someone else to do it - how else will what we do be seen? As you said:
    "Too many school librarians seem to subscribe to a “field of dreams” mythology: if you build a library, “they” will somehow know about it, and come and use it and value it."

    With that... I totally agree!

    ReplyDelete

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