CHICAGO – The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Knapp School Libraries Project, which established model school libraries across the United States. The project was a result of a $1.1 million grant funded by the Knapp Foundation of North Carolina, Inc. At the time, it was the largest grant specifically earmarked for the development of school libraries received by the American Library Association (ALA).
The first objective of the five-year project, launched March 1, 1963, was to "to demonstrate the educational value of school library programs, services and resources" by upgrading their materials and developing qualified personnel. Grant funds were used to expand and renovate hundreds of school libraries across the United States. The project was guided by the AASL learning standards adopted in 1960 and directed by Peggy Sullivan, who later served as ALA president (1980-1981). Serving on the project committee were notable AASL volunteer leaders Mary Gaver, Sara Fenwick, Frances Henne, Mary Frances Johnson, Virginia Mathews, AASL President-Elect Jean Lowrie and AASL President Cora Paul Bomar. “Realization: The Final Report of the Knapp School Library Project,” edited by Sullivan, was published by ALA in 1968.
"It is interesting to note that the impetus for the Knapp Project was because the chair of the Knapp Foundation read a magazine article in This Week entitled 'Is Your Child a Victim of the Book Gap,'" said AASL President Susan Ballard. "As we observe the 50th anniversary of the project, we rededicate ourselves to continue to raise awareness among all members of our learning communities to ensure that in 2013 no child is a victim of the book gap or of the digital gap and technological divide. The evidence is compelling that students succeed and excel in those communities that have worked to provide quality school library programs and services."
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.