Legislator @ your library aims to get politicians into school libraries

Contact: Megan McFarlane
Campaign coordinator
312-280-2148
mmcfarlane@ala.org

News
For Immediate Release
February 9, 2009

CHICAGO- The Pennsylvania School Librarian Association (PSLA) has launched a new effort to educate a whole new student body.

The Legislator @ your library campaign is a way for PSLA members to invite their local state legislators to visit school libraries. Visits are designed to showcase the importance of school libraries in student academic achievement, to promote the library as a place of learning, to demonstrate the role of school library media specialists and to create new partners in library advocacy.

“In visiting with legislators in Harrisburg (Penn.), we learned how unaware they were of what was going on in school libraries across Pennsylvania,” said Debra Kachel, chairperson of the PSLA Legislation Committee and former school library media specialist.

Along with a group of other retired school library media specialists, Kachel made 37 trips to Harrisburg last year to speak with legislators about the state of school libraries. It was out of these visits that the Legislator @ your library campaign was created.

“The role of the Legislator @ your library campaign is to educate state legislators about what is going on in school libraries in their communities, while at the same time provide school libraries and librarians across the state of Pennsylvania with a unified message about the equity of educational resources,” said Kachel.

In order to coordinate legislator visits, PSLA has trained five retired PSLA members to act as event planners and advisers to current members. Kachel trains the advisors via conference call to act a point person between legislators, librarians and local media.

“The event planner position is a great way for retired librarians to stay involved in the profession they love,” said Kachel. “They are a real asset to library media specialists who do not have the time to coordinate these events or go to Harrisburg themselves.”

The Web site (link) provides tools for school library media specialists and advisors, including checklists, suggested activities, handouts for legislators and downloadable booklets for legislators. The Web site also includs photos of previous visits from Pennsylvania State Rep. Sandra Major (R) of the 111th District and Pennsylvania State Senator Jeffery E. Piccola (R) of the 15th district, as well as chair of the Senate Education Committee. PSLA currently has 11 visits in the works and plans to train more advisors.

“I think this is something every state can do,” said Kachel.

Kachel presented at the joint Oregon Association of School Libraries and Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) conference last year, which has led WLMA to develop its own campaign.

The Campaign for America’s Libraries ( www.ala.org/@yourlibrary) is ALA’s public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians.  Thousands of libraries of all types – across the country and around the globe - use the Campaign’s @ your library® brand. The Campaign is made possible in part by ALA’s Library Champions, corporations and foundations who advocate the importance of the library in American society.