ALA President Jim Neal to hold ‘Fight for School Libraries’ summit May 23

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/01/2018


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians

American Library Association

(312) 280-4383

CHICAGO – Seeing the need for urgent action to combat cuts in school library funding, staffing and programming, American Library Association (ALA) President Jim Neal will host a summit in Chicago on May 23, at ALA Headquarters, 50 E. Huron, to work with our nation’s library leaders to craft a strategy to advocate for our nation’s school libraries.

Neal is convening representatives from school, public and academic libraries. The meeting aims to create a strategy that demonstrates the value and impact of school libraries in their communities.

“School libraries and librarians play a foundational role within our nation’s education ecosystem,” said Neal. “School libraries play an invaluable role in students’ academic performance as they progress from elementary school to high school and college.  Libraries of all types, must embrace advocacy for school libraries as foundational to the success of our collective work for students who want to thrive and compete in our global marketplace.”

Even in ALA’s backyard, public school students in Chicago face dire circumstances with the loss of roughly 360 school librarians since 2013. Students in three out of four Chicago Public Schools are denied access to a school librarian. Current data shows that only 140 school librarians remain to serve more than 370,000 students.

“We must all fight the closing of school libraries, the reductions in professional staffing, the erosion of budgets for resources and technology, and the consequent weakening of the librarian–teacher partnership in the classroom. We must advocate for the federal funding that supports network access in schools. We must continue to document and demonstrate the powerful link between student success, educational enrichment, and well-supported school libraries.”

The value of school libraries is articulated in AASL’s National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries, which states as its Common Beliefs:

  • The school library is a unique and essential part of a learning community.
  • Qualified school librarians lead effective school libraries.
  • Learners should be prepared for college, career, and life.
  • Reading is the core of personal and academic competency.
  • Intellectual freedom is every learner’s right.
  • Information technologies must be appropriately integrated and equitably available.

Steven Yates, president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of ALA, echoed Neal’s call for strengthening relationships with other ALA divisions, particularly those that work with children and youth, as well as working more closely with the ALA Washington Office. He said, “Every student deserves access to a school library with a vibrant collection curated by a certified school librarian. AASL appreciates ALA President Jim Neal's convening to articulate a concerted advocacy effort that stands to positively impact the future of all libraries for decades to come. We are committed to producing action steps that will involve stakeholders across education to broaden the impact of our work.”

For more information on the summit, contact Macey Morales, deputy director, ALA Public Awareness Office, at (312) 280-1546 or, or Steve Zalusky, communications specialist, at (312) 280-1546 or

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit