CHICAGO — Julie Walker, the American Association of School Librarian’s (AASL) executive director, interviews former first lady Laura Bush in the new issue of AASL’s professional journal, Knowledge Quest. The issue focuses on the theme “Caring is Essential.” During the interview, Walker and the former first lady discuss the caring power of the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative, a project overseen by the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. The interview appears as a feature of the May/June 2012 issue and is also available online at www.ala.org/aasl/knowledgequest.
In the interview, Walker and Mrs. Bush discuss the role the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative grants played in the emotional recovery of the students and school staff in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and other Gulf Coast storms. Established in 2006, the initiative was created to help school libraries become fully functional and to offer the needed print resources to the students of schools destroyed or severely damaged by the tropical storms of 2005.
“At the time I really thought what I was trying to do was lighten the load on these school districts; just take care of one piece of rebuilding and that would be restoring their library collections,” Mrs. Bush states during one portion of the interview. “But as soon as I went to schools I realized there was a caring part of it. I realized that part of it would be healing…I realized how healing it would be for the librarians and for the school people to know that someone was going to replace their books. But also how healing it would be for children to come back to a school with collection of new, fresh, books.”
The final round of grants in the Gulf Coast School Library Initiative was made in March of this year. In total, the initiative has awarded $6.3 million dollars to 116 schools in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Published bimonthly September through June by the American Association of School Librarians, Knowledge Quest is devoted to offering substantive information to assist building-level school librarians, supervisors, library educators and other decision makers concerned with the development of school library programs and services. Articles address the integration of theory and practice in school librarianship and new developments in education, learning theory and relevant disciplines.
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.