ALA, AASL praise library legislation to expand access for students nationwide
For Immediate Release
Deputy Director, Communications
Public Policy & Advocacy Office
American Library Association
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the American Library Association (ALA) and its division, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), welcomed the bicameral introduction of the Right to Read Act by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-03). The Right to Read Act is designed to ensure all students, including low-income and minority students, children with disabilities, and English language learners, have access to an effective school library staffed by a certified school librarian. The Right to Read Act would increase student access to fully staffed and appropriately resourced school libraries and authorize funding to meet these urgent needs.
ALA President Lessa Kananiʻopua Pelayo-Lozada said, “Today's school libraries are dynamic centers of learning that provide access to a wide range of materials and technology. The Right to Read Act, like ALA, insists that all students have the right to read freely and deserve equitable access to a robust collection in their school library.
“National Library Week and School Library Month is a fitting time to spotlight how school librarians bridge the gap between access and opportunity for all learners. Now is the time to scale that success – not take it for granted. The Right to Read Act stands up against disinvestment and censorship in school libraries and recognizes that every school library should be staffed by a state-certified school librarian. Strong school libraries staffed by school librarians lead to stronger teachers and greater academic achievement. ALA applauds Senator Jack Reed and Representative Raúl Grijalva for introducing the Right to Read Act.”
“AASL believes that all students have the right to read freely and deserve equitable access to a school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian,” said AASL President Kathy Lester. “Administrators, teachers, parents and students rely on school librarians for access to professionally curated resources that meet the needs of the entire learning community. Just as importantly, certified school librarians create a welcoming environment for all students, develop a school-wide culture of reading, teach information literacy and digital literacy skills, and lead meaningful technology integration in their schools. AASL fully supports the Right to Read Act of 2023 and thanks Senator Reed, Representative Grijalva and their staff for recognizing that an effective school library is essential for student success.”
The Right to Read Act would increase student access to effective, fully staffed and resourced school libraries across the nation by authorizing Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants ($500 million), as well as increasing the authorization for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program ($100 million) to provide critical literacy resources in communities with significant need.
Senator Reed and Rep. Grijalva’s legislation also protects the Constitutional rights of students to access information in school libraries, in response to the growing trend of book bans. In addition, the Right to Read Act would extend liability protections to teachers and school librarians.
The legislation also supports recruitment, retention and professional development for state-certified school librarians. Additionally, the Right to Read Act would improve federal collection of statistics about school libraries to provide better data about how schools are advancing students’ learning and literacy skills.