Kristen Anderson receives AASL Ruth Toor Grant for Strong Public School Libraries

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/07/2020


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – Kristen Anderson, school librarian at Kingsley Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois, is the recipient of the 2020 American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Ruth Toor Grant for Strong Public School Libraries. Sponsored by Jay Toor, the grant provides the recipient with $3,000 in funding for the creation and implementation of a local public awareness/marketing campaign that promotes and positions their school library as a necessary resource in the community.

Anderson’s project “A Strong School Library Matters to Kingsley” will include a public awareness campaign and intentional, equitable family engagement to promote the services and the mission of a strong school library to the school’s families. The project will start with the dissemination of marketing materials to students and families. Planned items include magnets highlighting the days Kingsley students can access the library and book bags for toting library materials to and from school. Anderson will also provide classrooms with red bins for easy return of library resources.

In tandem with parent-teacher conferences, Anderson will invite families to engage in activities showcasing the school library. First-grade students will have the opportunity to teach their families about the school library through partner reading, browsing the stacks as a family, and enjoying a meal together. Fourth- and fifth-grade students and their families will learn about award-winning books to consider as family reads. The families will also make their own reading journals, which will include prompts the family members can respond to.

“The committee saw this as an audacious plan to make the school district and the community aware of the school library,” said Hilda Weisburg, award committee chair. “We were particularly impressed with the level of community involvement. A variety of events are planned throughout the school year and are easily replicable by others.”

“I want to thank Hilda Weisburg and her committee for their work in selecting a recipient for this grant,” said Mary Keeling, AASL President. “I love Ms. Anderson’s approach to strengthening the perception of her school library as a center of literacy in her school by shifting from using family events for fundraising to providing shared literacy experiences that can help families develop routines and habits to support literacy.”

The AASL award winners will be honored during a virtual AASL Awards Ceremony during the fall of 2020. The virtual ceremony will replace the live ceremony traditionally presented during the ALA Annual Conference. Out of concern for the health and safety of all members of the community, the ALA Executive Board felt it was important to cancel the 2020 conference taking place in Chicago. Details for the virtual ceremony will be shared as they are finalized.

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