Monday, October 1, 2007

Call to Action for Funding School Libraries

Unfortunately, I'm a bit behind on my blog reading and just discovered this September 19th post from Kelly Fineman tonight which relates to an earlier post of mine on funding school libraries.

Congress is considering proposed legislation that will increase financing for school libraries and in many cases, improve or restore library programming in school districts across the country. The SKILLS Act (short for Strengthening Kids' Interest in Learning and Libraries -- clearly the acronym came first here) was sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (RI) and Thad Cochran (MI) and by Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Vernon Ehlers (MI). According to the tracking organizations, the bills (one in the House, one in the Senate) have been referred to committees.

In less than two weeks Congress will be voting on legislation that will:
1. Get much needed funding to school libraries.
2. Requires that every school in every school district of every state employs at least one state certified, highly qualified school library media specialist.
3. Provides monies for training and professional development for school library media specialists.

What does this mean?
1. It means more monies for schools to buy books and educational materials.
2. It means that young people will have access to more and better books because informed, knowledgeable librarians will be making book selections for their schools and will have more input and influence on trade and educational publishing for young people because they will have more purchasing power. (Many schools' libraries are run by parent volunteers and/or a teacher or other educational professional who may or may not have the skills and knowledge of a certified school librarian.)
3. It means that young people will have a knowledgeable librarian to teach them how to be informed consumers of information and critical thinkers.
4. It means that those wonderful people who are running school libraries who are not trained as professional librarians, will have access to professional develop monies to help them to get the professional training they need to help our kids.

1. Fax or email or call your congressional representatives in support of this legislation: the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act. If you are uncertain who your Senators are, or who your representatives is, you can find out at this website.
2. Copy and paste this into an email and send it to everyone you know, especially: friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, editors, publishers, authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, parents---everyone and everyone you know. Add your own short personal note and ask them to please contact their congressional representatives today by fax or email to support the SKILLs legislation. Encourage them to write a very few short words in support of this legislation. If you use a formula message it will not be taken as seriously as a more personalized fax or email.

Remember- Your voice and your vote do count---Your legislators keep actual tallies of fax, phone and email messages from their constituents on various issues, and it can influence the outcome of their vote!

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