A few weeks ago we got the official White House reply to the We the People petition we started for school libraries in January. It was a team effort to get the 28,000+ signatures for the petition and we had been waiting patiently (ok, maybe not so patiently) to see what the reply might be. You can read the petition and reply by clicking here.
Right after the reply came I wrote some initial thoughts on my blog. In that post, I highlight three benefits I saw from the White House Petition.
• We were successful! We got school libraries on the White House radar. Their statement clearly shows a support for school libraries and the critical role they play in schools.
• We saw what happens when we all work together. In my career, I’ve never seen such an amazing job of coordinating libraries of all type to work on a single issue. This is a clear example we can succeed when librarians advocate for each other (regardless of what type of library they are). We need each other and have to be willing to work together! This was a great example of doing just that.
• We continue to work on being a more vocal and visible presence. With the AASL Congressional Briefing, the White House Petition, and now in a few weeks with National Legislative Day, we continue to raise the important issue of school libraries to our nation’s leaders. We still have a long way to go, but I think we are moving in the right direction.
As I reflect on that post, I guess the million-dollar question is where to do we go from here?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think we continue to move in the right direction. Each step has been a step forward in helping to educate Washington about the power and potential in today’s school libraries. I think the petition is just one teaching tool. Just as we use different strategies and techniques with our students, we have to do the same with leaders in Washington.
We each have to take some ownership of this process – librarians, vendors, community members, parents, students, etc. We can’t assume that someone is going to do it. When we hear we need to call Washington on important library issues, we need to pick up the phone and do it. We need to send those emails. We need to make those contacts and make our voices heard.
The same can be said at the state and local level. They have to hear from school library advocates! They need to hear how important the community thinks libraries are to the school ecosystem. They need to hear those voices loudly, clearly, and often.
There is little doubt there is much work to do with all types of education and government leaders to help them see the impact and importance of today’s school libraries. But, we can’t give up. We have to keep working on a variety of strategies and use a plethora of teaching tools until they understand completely!
Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana and the 2011-2012 President of the American Association of School Librarians. He can be reached at email@example.com or @caharvey2 on Twitter. He blogs at Library Ties.
If you enjoyed this blog post, then read these posts in Carl Harvey's series on library advocacy:
- White House Petition for School Libraries! Signatures Needed Now!
- Carl Harvey Discusses the Next Steps in Advocating for School Libraries