School librarians eagerly await response from the White House

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/07/2012

Contact:

Jennifer Habley

CHICAGO – A petition in support of school library programs created by Carl Harvey, Indiana school librarian and the president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), has raised the 25,000 signatures needed to put the petition in the hands of President Obama and his administration. 

By using the “We the People” petition website provided by whitehouse.gov, Harvey called on the administration to ensure every child in America has access to an effective school library program by using the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to provide dedicated funding to help support those programs.  The petition can be read in its entirety at wh.gov/Wgd.  Posted on Jan. 5, 2012, the petition had one month to garner the 25,000 signatures needed to require a response from the White House. Through grassroots communication efforts, the threshold was crossed Jan. 31 – four days before the Feb. 04 deadline.

“The petition was a way to build awareness of the importance of including school libraries in the reauthorization of ESEA,” said Harvey.  “By raising the required signatures not only did we put the petition in the hands of the White House administration, but it gave school librarians an opportunity to reach out past their normal networks and garner support for their programs in a way that hasn’t been done before.”

Joining school librarians in recruiting petition signatures were many from outside of the profession, including library vendors, large and small, and well known children and young adult authors.  Educational organizations and AASL collaborators also used Twitter and other electronic means to spread the word urging their members, customers and, in some cases, their employees to sign and share the petition link.  American Library Association (ALA) President Molly Raphael sent a personal request to ALA members encouraging them to sign by stating, “School libraries are everyone’s issue.  Cuts in staffing or elimination of school library programs in a specific community affect all libraries in that community, and we must be willing to work together to support our broader library ecosystem. Help us make this an issue that commands attention.” Representing librarians from all types of the profession, Raphael' s Presidential Task Force on School Libraries worked with ALA divisions and offices to send appeals through their various channels, urging their members and volunteers to sign for school libraries.

“What I learned in the process was that when we all come together anything is possible,” said Harvey.  "We reached the 25,000+ signatures because of the countless Tweets, Facebook messages, emails and face -to-face conversations that librarians (of all types), vendors, ALA leadership, ALA divisions, students, teachers, administrators, family, friends and countless other school library supporters who not only took the time to sign the petition, but worked so diligently to spread the word.  This has truly been a collaborative endeavor and together we are looking forward to the response from the White House!”

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.