ALA, AASL rally in Washington State for school library reform

Contact: Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

(312) 280-4393

For Immediate Release,

January 30, 2008

ALA, AASL rally in Washington State for school library reform

CHICAGO - American Library Association (ALA) President Loriene Roy, American Association of School Librarians (AASL) President Sara Kelly Johns and school library supporters from across the country will gather at noon on Friday, Feb. 1, at the Washington State Capitol, Olympia, Wash., to rally in support of school library funding and staffing reform and Senate Bill 6380, which would give all Washington students full-time access to school libraries and certified school library media specialists.

"On the national level, SB 6380 will demonstrate to Congress the need for national education legislation that appropriately addresses the staffing and financial needs of school libraries," Roy said.

The rally will be the focal point of a daylong summit involving local education and library experts from Washington state, as well as national leaders, including Roy and Johns.

Studies in 19 states provide abundant evidence that students tend to perform better on state achievement tests at schools with certified school library media specialists as well as support staff.

Parents, educators, child advocates, elected officials and members of the library community around the country are watching the progress of SB 6380 as a model for education reform.

The Washington campaign, known as "Fund our Future Washington," is the creation of three determined Spokane mothers who have worked to make school libraries a state funding priority. Beginning with a petition drive that, at press time, had more than 4,400 signatures, the mothers created an organization called the Washington Coalition of School Libraries and Information Technology. They hope to gather 6,380 signatures in time for this Friday's rally.

The mothers' efforts have led to the introduction of SB 6380, which would provide all school districts with funding for a certain number of certified-teacher librarians, based on the size of the district, and allocate $12 per child for acquisition of materials.

In the Spokane (Wash.) School District, where budget cuts reduced 10 school library media specialist positions to part-time, supporters of school library programs are fighting to save their school libraries and have library services included in the state's definition of a basic education. Elsewhere in the state, the Federal Way School District slashed 20 library positions in 2006 in response to a $4 million budget deficit.

"These parents realize that school library programs are a key element in the education of all 21st Century students, starting in pre-school," Johns said. "The expertise of school library media specialists is a vital asset at a time when the global workforce requires workers who know how to find, analyze and use information."

According to the AASL, a division of the ALA, only about 60 percent of the school libraries in the United States have a full-time, state-certified school library media specialist on staff.

Because the federal No Child Left Behind Act does not address the direct correlation between school library media specialists and successful student academic achievement, school library budgets that are not protected on the state level are being increasingly cut to meet local budget constraints.

The AASL and ALA plan to use the rally in Washington state as a platform to begin a national campaign on behalf of school libraries.

More information will be available on the homepage of the ALA Web site,, on Feb. 1.

The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 65,000 members; its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information. The ALA devotes a section of its Web site to school library funding at

The AASL promotes the improvement and extension of K-12 library media services as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field. To learn more about the AASL, please visit

For more information on the Washington Coalition on School Libraries and Information Technology, visit